At first impression, Sylvia Annelise Hecht’s art and design is centered on the mind, body and soul. Her mural work gives a tranquil feel, which encourages you to stop and look. A pause from life, if you will. I was first introduced to Sylvia via The Oxbow Hotel’s e-mail list. Based on the email, her residency started in early October so I thought to myself what are the odds that she will still be working on her mural when I visit Eau Claire? I took the chance of perhaps meeting her.
As I was heading to the site where the mural is located, I saw a glimpse of an orange lift as soon as I turned the corner. My eyes opened wide and my finger slowly found its way on the shutter button of my camera. After a few photos, I introduced myself briefly as she was about to hop on the lift. When I said I was the publisher of Artdose Magazine, I asked her where she was currently based and she quickly mentioned that she is nomadic, but originally from Madison. At this point, I was intrigued to learn a little more about her.
The following day, we met at EC DC in downtown Eau Claire to chit-chat about her work, studio practice, and her current mural, The Sanctuary.
Sylvia attended UW-Madison for a few semesters until she decided to see what else the world had to offer. Her curiosity led her to traveling the world and using her art as a way to connect with people along her journey. Over the years, she transitioned into a full-time artist who freelances both in art and design work.
Murals have become an interest of mine for many reasons. When I see or hear about murals being created in Wisconsin, I start to think about the number of murals that have popped up in the North East, South East, and South West over the past 5-7 years. You can find murals in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Janesville, Madison; to name a few. Now, Eau Claire.
Sylvia’s mural work is influenced by her immediate surroundings whether it being architecture, the landscape, or the people. The idea that art is accessible to all and helps builds community inspires her creative work. Although, having a fine arts background, she found her interest in mural work by happenstance. With her sense of aesthetics in design, what type of art she wants to see in this world, and the intention she wants to evoke in people has enabled her to build a portfolio that has opened doors to other opportunities. Her creative process is explained as the intersection between humanity and the natural work that taps into the psyche.
Doing research about her work prior to our meeting, I was curious about the use of metallic copper paint. I asked, “Where did you get the idea to use this type of paint and what inspired this decision?” She said, the paint was influenced by the brick work found on the sidewalks of downtown Eau Claire and the idea of the paint shimmering when the sun hits it was motivating. The Sanctuary is approximately 35 x 40 feet, which was larger than expected and to top of it is her largest mural to date.
This mural was made possible through the artist-in-residency program at the Oxbow Hotel. The Sanctuary is the second mural created under this program and volunteers are recruited to assist the muralist.
The Sanctuary is inspired by the Eau Claire community, the Sand Hill Cranes, architecture, and the Chippewa Valley.
Sylvia Annelise Hecht is a multidisciplinary visual artist who is passionate about exploration of planet, nature, divinity, and the human spirit. Inspired by her travels, Sylvia’s work illustrates the complex harmony between humanity and the natural world. She has large scale murals and has headed various design projects in seven countries around the world. Sylvia’s recognition of art’s ability to connect and teach people fuels her creative process. She believes that a beautiful atmosphere holds magic in its ability to affect human psyche, and loves using intentional art and design to foster the creation of engaging and enjoyable environments in both public and private spaces.
The Sanctuary is located at the Fire House, 202 Gibson Street, Eau Claire, Wisconsin 54701.