May 20th, 2024

Katherine Heigl poses with her artwork for Gallery MAR in her Utah studio. Photo by Hollye Shepherd

Gallery MAR is proud to unveil the first ever solo exhibition of interdisciplinary artist, long-time collector, and friend Katherine Heigl: “Mother Nature.” This exhibition is not only a celebration of Heigl’s artistic talent but also a testament to the transformative power of art, where art becomes a conduit for self-expression, philanthropy, and connection. All sales from the exhibition will benefit the Heigl family’s non-profit, the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, founded in 2008 by Nancy and Katherine Heigl to help end animal cruelty and abuse. In an exclusive interview with Gallery MAR, Heigl shares insights into her artistic journey, inspirations, and the profound connection between her art and her philanthropic endeavors.

Heigl’s journey into the visual arts began as an early interest that resurfaced intermittently throughout her life. “I remember being on the set of Grey’s Anatomy in my mid-twenties, and I would sketch and draw in between takes,” Heigl recalls, “but then I lost track of it or got distracted with everything else in life.” It wasn’t until she stumbled upon Jane Davenport’s whimsical art supplies that her passion reignited with fervor. Heigl laughs a little, remembering the fortuitous gift that sparked her returned interest: ”I bought a bunch of art supplies for my niece for Christmas, and she didn’t end up using them, so I did. Suddenly I was knee deep in the world of art again and playing with more than just a pencil and blending tools. It’s just evolved from there.” Delving into various media, Heigl’s artistic exploration became a deeply immersive experience, enriched by online courses and experimentation.

Katherine Heigl’s mixed media work, “Nurture Me”

What sets Heigl’s artwork apart is her fearless embrace of mixed media. From pastels and charcoals to oils and acrylics, Heigl boldly navigates diverse media, allowing each to inform the other. Seamlessly blending fibers, handmade papers, collage elements, paint, and more, Heigl thoughtfully builds up textured layers onto the canvas, infusing greater depth and interest into each piece.

Her artistic style, while still evolving, exudes a cinematic quality, evoking drama, moodiness, and ethereality. Through layers of expressive texture and gestural applications of media, Heigl imbues each piece with a sense of energy and movement. Whether she’s depicting a hare mid-leap or the nurturing stroke of a woman and deer, every subject on her canvas feels on the cusp of vitality, as if preserved in an ephemeral moment in time before animating once more. 

Katherine Heigl in her brand new studio, outside of her home in northern Utah. Photo by Hollye Shepherd

This lively, narrative quality in her work highlights the connection between Heigl’s visual artwork and her lifelong passion for performance art. Her extensive experience in the performing arts has helped her to develop a masterful eye for composition and a unique source for inspiration. Much of Heigl’s artistic inspiration comes from watching television and cinema, finding her muse in the ways in which scenes are framed and sets are designed. “I’ve spent a lifetime in the performance arts,” Heigl explains, “so I take my TV and film watching very seriously. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Downton Abbey, and I wanted to really dive into that world, because, visually, that show – the way they shot it and the way each of their scenes were set up – it was like art. If you freeze framed a moment, it’s like a painting. So much of it was so beautiful […] Because I’m so well versed in [performance art] at this point, I know how much work went into all of that, and it really inspires me. I love the idea of honoring that.”

Katherine Heigl’s mixed media work “Scarab”

In addition to finding inspiration through performance art, Heigl also draws great inspiration from her deep love, respect, and admiration for animals and the human-animal bond. Her upcoming exhibition, aptly titled “Mother Nature,” not only showcases Heigl’s artistic prowess but also reflects her deep-seated passion for animal welfare. All sales from the exhibition will benefit the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, her family’s non-profit organization dedicated to ending animal cruelty and abuse. 

Heigl’s profound connection to animals stems from her upbringing and the foundation’s inception as a tribute to her late brother. “I was raised in a home with lots of companion animals,” Heigl explains, “There was a real love, appreciation, and respect for that relationship. In 2008, we started the foundation in my brother’s name who passed away in a car accident. It was a way of my mother giving him a legacy that he couldn’t create for himself while also doing something about this real issue we have in our country with the pet overpopulation […] These creatures bring so much to our lives in a way that no other heartbeat can. Feeling this way, and then realizing what was going on for their kin – how helpless they were out there in the world and how they were not getting the protection they needed –, inspired us to start this foundation to try to make a dent in that problem.” 

Heigl painting in her studio. Photo by Hollye Shepherd

Through her art, Heigl seeks to amplify the human-animal bond and advocate for the protection of all creatures. In fact, it was her passion for this cause that emboldened her to exhibit her artwork for the first time. Heigl explains, “It was really the idea of doing [the exhibition] for the foundation that gave me courage to put myself out there in this way. It’s a deep, deep passion and purpose for me […] I see nature as a feminine energy, as a nurturing and unconditionally loving energy, so I wanted to remind the world that that’s there. So this show was my way of trying to speak to that.” Heigl’s artistic journey is a testament to the power of pursuing one’s passions with courage. Despite nerves over showcasing her visual artwork for the first time, she embraces this opportunity as the catalyst for greater altruism and charity as well as the fulfillment of a long-held aspiration. 

Katherine Heigl’s mixed media works, “The Right Path” and “The Guide”

Having this first ever solo exhibition at Gallery MAR feels especially meaningful for Heigl. Gallery MAR has long held an especially dear place in her heart, after years of finding endless inspiration and admiration within its gallery walls. “Gallery MAR is my favorite gallery in Park City,” Heigl says, “I love Maren Mullin’s curation, and I love her artists. I have so much work from Gallery MAR in my house that my home has been turned into a sort of gallery at this point.” Transitioning from a dedicated art collector to a featured artist at Gallery MAR feels like “a crazy dream come true and an interesting full circle moment” for Katherine Heigl, marking a new chapter in her artistic endeavors. 

To add another layer to the dream, Katherine Heigl will be showing her artwork alongside the fine leather artwork of her husband, musician Josh Kelley. “This whole thing has turned into such a wonderful moment in our lives,” Heigl beams, “I love that we’re doing it together. It bolsters my confidence that he’ll be there with me, sharing his own work, too. And his work is just so cool […], it’s so complicated, beautiful, and painstakingly time-consuming.” 

Josh Kelley working on one of his leather artworks (Photo by Hollye Shepherd) | A custom, made-from-scratch leather saddle by Josh Kelley

Recently, Josh Kelley has embarked on his own captivating journey into the world of visual arts through leather artistry, a venture that showcases his own creative versatility and craftsmanship. What began as the following of a curiosity, crafting belts and guitar straps for fellow musicians, has evolved into a true passion and commitment to mastering fine leather craft as Kelley studies under master craftsmen and pursues more ambitious projects like building custom saddles from scratch. Through meticulous artistry and the painstaking labor of love evident in every handcrafted piece, Kelley’s leather art beckons us to appreciate the beauty of traditional craftsmanship and the spirit of Americana creativity. 

Through their captivating creations, Heigl and Kelley invite viewers to embark on a visual journey that celebrates nature, creativity, and the enduring bond between humans and animals. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Katherine Heigl’s and Josh Kelley’sMother Nature” exhibition at Gallery MAR, opening on May 31, 2024, where art and philanthropy will converge to inspire, uplift, and celebrate the transformative power of art.


Written and Interviewed by Veronica Vale