• Often titles her works as “Self-Portraits,” not just because she often depicts herself, but to underscore that the places and circumstances depicted in her paintings are her subjective takes on a world gone awry

  • Was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 2011, the honorary society of professional artists founded in 1825; members are elected by their peers as one of the highest honors in American art

  • Uses a technique called “image streaming” which taps into the subconscious accumulations of mental imagery we all carry to tell complex, non-linear visual stories

  • Is currently at work on her first graphic novel, a memoir that also explores the unique way she looks at art


Climate Change; Empathy; Feminism; LGBTQ+ Rights & Queer Ecologies; Masculinity; Power & Privilege; Slavery

Julie Heffernan is an American painter whose artwork has been described by the writer Rebecca Solnit as “a new kind of history painting.” Through captivating portraits set in vividly detailed realms, she reflects on a variety of environmental, (art) historical, feminist, literary, social, and political subjects.


Heffernan received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking from University of California at Santa Cruz, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale School of Art and Architecture. She is a Professor of Fine Arts at Montclair State University and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Since 1999, Heffernan has had more than 50 solo exhibitions across the United States and abroad. Her work is in over 25 collections, including the Brooklyn Museum and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Her honors include induction into the National Academy of Design in 2011 and election to its board in 2014; serving as featured artist at the MacDowell Colony and Brooklyn Academy of Music; and fellowships at MacDowell, University of Tampa, and BAU Institute in Cassis, France. A recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Fulbright-Hayes program, Heffernan was just awarded her second NYFA this year. She has been represented by Catharine Clark Gallery since 2005. Heffernan is also the founder and editor of the blog Painters on Paintings, where over 115 artists have written on another artist whom interests them since its launch in 2016. 

[Heffernan’s] lush and teeming paintings suggest a world in which familiar emblems of civilizations have crashed and burned, but where a new order based on a very different set of values is beginning to be born…Like all good futurists, Heffernan provides a vision of the future that is very much about the present. In her paintings we see how our metaphors are killing us and how new ways of thinking might make life possible again.
Eleanor Heartney, catalogue essay for “When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan”

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