Heather Dever is a collage artist based in Livermore, CA. Dever’s fundamental goal in life is to understand the universe and to see and convey beauty. She uses her collages to explore her emotions and her life experiences and to question the world around her.
Dever has been making collages for over 30 years. She focuses on the content of pictures rather than their physical aspects, and experiments with how placing them in relation to each other establishes connections between the meanings of those pictures and creates new meanings. Dever’s chief sources are science and fashion magazines and catalogs of all types. She finds poignancy in everyday objects. All of Dever’s works are purely handmade using paper, scissors, and glue. Making these found pictures and text look as organic together as possible without the aid of digital tools is a chief goal of her work.
Dever earned a BA in pure mathematics, specializing in differential geometry, and she has a deep and abiding passion for math and science, especially physics. Many of her works explore the nature of space and time or use metaphors from science. The use of metaphor and storytelling is a common theme in her work. Dever’s love of books and her experience in publishing, where she created and edited math books, websites, and videos, have given her insight into the structuring of information and how that structure conveys meanings.
Dever uses the process of making collages to understand her emotions and life experiences. Chief among these is the sudden death of her beloved husband, Erik Fitzpatrick, in 2010, when they were 35 years old. For several years all meaning left her—not only the meaning of life but the meaning of ordinary objects, such as chairs—and as it slowly started to come back she has tried to more deeply understand the particular meaning of the world to her. This work started to come to fruition in 2020, and she is still making artistic sense of his death and her grief.
Dever has suffered from depression and intense chronic pain since the 1990s, when she was a teenager. She also developed chronic fatigue in 2002. These ailments slowly became disabling, and have hindered and isolated her for many years. She uses her collages to explore her complex relationship with her body and with medicine.
In 2022 Dever was able to exhibit and sell the artwork she has been making since 1990. She hopes that doing so will further her fundamental goal to see and convey beauty in all its forms. Her collage The Chair was featured on Stanford Health Care’s Voices in Disability website and she showed her work at ArtWalk Livermore 2022. She hopes to someday become a full-time artist.