This week’s cover artist, Heidi Lechner, is a self-taught artist, a Long Island native and a single mom to three growing boys. She recently took some time to discuss “The Resistance” and more with us.
Could you start with discussing the inspiration for this piece?
I was working on a logo for the alternate National Park Service. As you might know, there was a media blackout of many national parks sites. This struck a cord in me. I have always been a passionate advocate for wildlife and nature. I realized as I was working on this piece, it wasn’t so much a logo any longer, but an expression of the injustice that was transpiring. I wanted to demonstrate that those who have no voice—wildlife in this case—have people that will continue the fight. I may not be able to take some of the actions many animal activists are able to, but I believe I can use my talents to speak for the voiceless and represent them. To be on the cover of this magazine brought elation I couldn’t convey, not because my art was exposed, but because the problems were.
So the piece was political from the start?
Yes. This piece is called “The Resistance.” I used a bald eagle, which I have personally photographed on Long Island a few times. I cannot articulate the emotions of seeing one in its natural habitat. It just makes you step back and stare in awe. It’s a symbol of our freedom, liberty and justice. I’ve often tried to demonstrate in my work that animal rights, as well as climate change, which affects all of us, including wildlife, will not be dismissed easily. We will take action, we will resist. We need to do better for our home, and our children’s future. It’s for everyone’s sake.
Did you participate in any of the Women’s Marches?
I did not. But I do support those who did. Great change doesn’t come from presidents, but from those who actively organize and productively create better solutions. I’ve considered protesting in the March for Science [on Earth Day].
Changing gears, your Silly Face Series is, well, silly. Does one figure speak to you more than the others?
All of them do, in their own unique way. Some are celebrities, some are friends, and a few pieces are family. Comedy is special and something we can appreciate regardless of what we may be enduring. It has helped me through adverse times. They say laughter is the best medicine. It was always a dream of mine to be a comedic actor, and many of these folks inspired me—but here I am, drawing them instead. And that’s okay.
Do you have more of these silly faces planned?
Yes: The “Inspirational Faces Series” as well as “Musical Faces Series.” I will continue to do the “Silly Face Series” as well because it will take a long time to cover all the people I’d like to. Art can be consuming of time, but I’ve been able to work faster as I go.
Do you have any advice for an aspiring artist?
You should read a lot. Study! Before there was social media and everyone had a computer, I would go to the library. If I were painting a particular subject, whether it was a lion, a celebrity or a Native American, I would take out books and read about them.
Where can our readers find your work?
I have a lot of social media where you can see my work and I hope to have some exhibits soon. My website is rainbowriverart.com and @rainbowriverart for most social media.