Huntington Woods artist shares environmental concerns in mosaic art

By Rachel Moulden, For Digital First Media

Beach of Lost Baloons
Deborah Hecht arranged lost and broken bits of balloons she found along the beach at Lake Michigan to illustrate in an artistic way the folly of our throwaway culture. Courtesy of Deborah Hecht

Deborah Hecht has been enamored with the world of art from the very beginning.

The Huntington Woods artist is the youngest of three girls in her family, with a mother who painted in watercolor. Hecht started drawing pictures at the young age of 3, because “art was normal” in her world.

Hecht studied art at a variety of places. As a child, she took classes at a Jewish community center. In high school she continued to take classes at College for Creative Studies. Later she went on to study at Wayne State University, where she graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in painting.

After college, she moved to New York City and continued to paint, but got a job designing Bulova Watches, then worked with ArtCarved rings. She spent time picking up skills to apply in her career.

“People assumed that my mom taught me art, but I wanted to be independent,” Hecht says.

After moving back to the Metro Detroit area, she started making tiles at Pewabic Pottery, which lead her to the beautiful mosaic pieces she creates today.

Of all her artworks, one of Hecht’s proudest is the “Home Improvement and Home Cooking” sculpture, which won the grand prize in the Our Town Art Show in Birmingham.

“The hands are ceramic — rest is made up of (found) objects,” she says.

When seeking objects to collect for mosaics like these, she looks beyond their original purpose to see them as elements.

It can take weeks to months, depending on materials and the size of the piece, for Hecht to create an artwork. If she’s on deadline, she usually works around the clock, but mainly she works around the hours that her gallery is open to the public.

In Hecht’s most recent series, she works with beach trash. She collected hundreds of consumer items along a mile of Lake Michigan, near Northport in the Leelanau Peninsula. She has a cottage in the area and likes to spend her time there during summer months. The project, she says, made her more aware of how much we waste every day, and she hopes it will bring awareness to others, as well. She wants to partner with a nonprofit focused on saving the environment.

In creating her art, Hecht says planning the composition is the most fun.

“It’s sheer pleasure when you work with mixed media, the hard part is making sure the physical composition of the structure works,” she says.

Aside from art, Hecht has also written poetry since childhood.

“I don’t consider myself a writer, but sometimes only words will do,” she says. “I write when I’m really struck by something. It’s a source of therapy, where I need to work my feelings out.”

One of her beach trash pieces is composed with remnants of balloons, and it’s the first piece where she combined her art with words.

When Hecht is not creating art she likes to spend time kayaking, gardening and enjoying the outdoors.

Hecht’s studio, at 25907 Coolidge Hwy., Oak Park, is open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. To learn more about her artwork, visit hechtcustomtileart.com.

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