This article by Heidi Hooper is about her passion and fortitude to create art in spite of obstacles and how it led to world-wide acclaim. After having achieved many accolades as a metalsmith artist, she was faced with cancer which left permanent damage to her arm. She could no longer work in that medium. Her persistence led to her becoming a world-acclaimed, award-winning artist known as “The Andy Warhol of Dryer Lint.” She proves that her innate talent, courage and fervor harvest unlimited potential. This article is part of our inspirational series of “Artists’ Stories”.
About Heidi Hooper: She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s sculpture department and studied for her Master’s Degree at UCLA in Long Beach and the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston — where she also taught. Her work has been shown in many galleries throughout the U.S. including 433 Main Street Gallery, Stroudsburg, PA; A Mano Gallery, Lambertville, NJ; and Anderson Gallery, Richmond, VA. Her numerous awards include Judge’s Choice Award, Philcon Science Fiction Convention, Philadelphia, PA; Monroe County Image Award, Community Arts, Stroudsburg, PA; Best Fiber, Niche Magazine Award, Philadelphia, PA; among others. Visit her website HeidiHooper.com to see her work.
The Path to Becoming the World’s Premier Dryer Lint Artist
Since the removal of most of my right arm muscle to cancer, I thought my career as an artist – a metalsmith and jeweler – had ended. I had to heal myself somehow, because I needed to create, handicapped as I was. The monster within me demanded it.
I tried many different media, and in a move that surprised even me, ended up making art from dryer lint. I liked working with the textures, and had to teach myself the techniques needed to make it look great. As I progressed, my work became increasingly complicated and more detailed.
I have since become the world’s premier dryer lint artist. Consumer Reports calls me “The Andy Warhol of Dryer Lint.” Ripley’s Believe it or Not features my work in their museums and in their books.
And in just the past few months, I was a guest on ABC TV’s TV show “To Tell The Truth” where the panelists — including Mel Brooks — had to guess which one was the real dryer lint artist.
My health will never be great. I have lymphedema and must get into a machine every once in a while to prevent the arm from swelling. And even then, it’s not always successful. As I write this, I am recuperating from another week-long stay at the hospital when the cellulitis acted up, causing an infection.
After so many years of sadness with my cancer treatments, I like to laugh. It pleases me when people say “dryer lint?” It’s definitely funny to consider what the art is made of, and my work has always had that thread of humor throughout it. Hopefully this is obvious in my work.
I like to do themes for much of my work. I do tributes to artists I admire, and these have sold for thousands of dollars each. I also like doing peacocks using real peacock feathers, and I recently completed a series of super hero women as cats.
A lot of my work is commission – people like getting pictures of their pets in dryer lint, and the medium works well for fuzzy animals.
People often ask how I dye the lint, but I don’t. You really can’t dye what is essentially dust, and even if you did, it would smear onto the glass that covers the piece. I need lint to come out of the dryer that color.
Most of my best lint comes from people who mail it to me. I have costume designers who send me great lint in various colors, because most of mine comes out gray. I always thank those who send me lint with a signed print at the end of each year.
I have a huge walk-in closet with a very tall ceiling that stores the lint. I sort it by color, laying it out in flat sheets, and then keep in it plastic containers. Then the hard part is keeping the cats from jumping on the boxes and spilling the lint all over the floor.
Visit Heidi Hooper’s website: HeidiHooper.com
Join her on Social Media
Learn more about her
This article is part of our inspirational series of “Artists’ Stories”.