Very Fine Artist: Heather Haden

Heather Haden purchases the art and designs the exhibitions that are on display at the Massillon Museum. Her day-to-day job includes keeping the gallery in order, checking technology, running reports about temperature and humidity, writing grants and even identifying any bugs that are found in the museum.

“Phoenix” by Theodoros Stamos (1922-1997), 1952, Gift of Benjamin Weiss, Collection of the Massillon Museum (56.136), Image Courtesy of the Massillon Museum
Heather Haden purchases the art and designs the exhibitions that are on display at the Massillon Museum.

Her day-to-day job includes keeping the gallery in order, checking technology, running reports about temperature and humidity, writing grants and even identifying any bugs that are found in the museum.

“It’s been awhile since I considered myself to be an artist in the traditional sense of the word,” she said.

But Haden’s creations—particularly her recent exhibition of abstract art geared toward visitors with limited vision—have earned her national recognition.

Haden became the museum’s curator in 2015, after working as a curatorial intern there and serving as the education and outreach coordinator. Her new position provides her with a better opportunity to reach a broad audience, particularly people with low-vision or blindness.

“My passion for the arts has always been driven by accessibility and storytelling,” she said.

This year, she opened the multisensory exhibition “Blind Spot: A Matter of Perception” that included sounds, braille labels and aluminum models of the art to make the 10 abstract pieces accessible to everyone. A portion of the exhibition was installed at the Canton Symphony Orchestra as part of its ConverZations series, and she’s exploring making the exhibit fully traveling. Haden and a team presented about the exhibition at the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Conference in Austin, Texas, and the exhibition will be featured in a peer-reviewed journal next year.

Haden usually is planning at least two exhibitions. The Massillon Museum has more than 100,000 objects in its collection, though only about 5 percent are on display at any given time.

Haden’s favorite pieces in the museum’s collection are a painting and a garment, both of which she says have a fluidity she appreciates.

The painting, “Phoenix” by Theodoros Stamos, was one of the pieces in the “Blind Spot” exhibition. The oil-on-canvas has navy and gold strokes and geometric shapes and no clear depiction of the mythical bird.

The garment, a jacket by early 1900s designer Mariano Fortuny, is a rich velvet with an embossed texture that has a kimono style.

Haden is quick to point out she’s never touched the jacket without a glove, though it’s tempting. “I’m very well-behaved,” she said, laughing.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass