Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Learning Commons

first floor west display area

"Sextant/Gray", a series of 27 digital photographs by Heather Stapelman is on display in Odegaard.


[The following is a poem that the artist included on the label for the pieces, which captures the spirit of the work.]

Sea Breeze by Stéphane Mallarmé

The flesh is—and I’ve ready every book.
O to escape—to get away! Birds look
as though they’re drunk for unknown spray and skies.
No ancient gardens mirrored in the eyes,
nothing can hold this heart steeped in the sea—
not my lamp’s desolate luminosity
nor the blank paper guarded by its white
nor the young wife feeding her child, O night!
Away! You steamer with your swaying helm,
raise anchor for some more exotic realm!
Ennui, crushed down by cruel hopes, still relies
on hankerchiefs’ definitive goodbyes!
Is this the kind of squall-inviting mast
that storm-winds buckle about shipwrecks cast
away—no mast, no islets flourishing?...
Still, my soul, listen to the sailors sing!

Stéphane Mallarmé Collected Poems and Other Verse, Oxford University Press, 2006.


I was born in Seattle, Washington in 1978. A daydreamer and romantic through and through, I was fascinated with art at a very young age and implicitly understood its ability to shift perspective. The library was the place where I was free to fully explore my interests. I looked to art books for guidance, understanding and inspiration and thus acquired an art education before ever receiving any formal training. My undergraduate work was completed at the University of Washington in Printmaking in 2003. I received my graduate degree in Print Media from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2006, an experience that has bound me even more profoundly to my creative work. Influences include: Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Bill Viola, Uta Barth, Pierre Huyghe, Ugo Rondinone, Doug Aitken, Roni Horn, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Kenro Izu, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell, Tacita Dean, Francesca Woodman, Gregory Crewdson, Nan Goldin and so many more.

Artist Statement

I have always had the sense that light, in and of it self, is esoterically profound—that it is somehow more than what it is commonly understood to be; for me, light has been the embodiment of seduction and magic. That sensibility existed however, before I knew anything about quantum mechanics or the fact that light was, in essence, the gatekeeper to quantum physics and the Achilles’ heal of classical physics. It is by virtue of a paradoxical quality of acting as both particle and wave that light has thus revealed itself to me—and yet simultaneously become more elusive than ever. As a result, it is ultimately in Paradox that I have immersed myself and my work. In this space of non-space. An attempt to find a tear in the fabric where physical reality breaks down and becomes fluid. Light, therefore, is not so much the photographer’s medium and muse, as it is an uncanny alchemist.