A Community for Collaboration

When Heather Lewis was a freshman in high school, she was envious of the students in photography class who had the freedom to roam the campus. That envy ended up turning into one of her greatest passions.

After completing her art studies at schools around the Southeastern United States, Lewis moved out to Southern California to pursue her art career. 

After years in the arts, Lewis, a Southern girl at heart, decided to move back to the Research Triangle area where she currently works in development for Carolina.

Lewis found that while being in a college town provides for a unique cultural experience, what Chapel Hill lacked was a community of photographers to inspire creation. When friends reached out to create that community, she jumped at the opportunity. In 2016, she helped found Mother F Stop

“Mother F Stop started with a group of three women who have become moms since being in grad school together. It’s now the biggest focus of our life, so the name itself is a play on words,” Lewis said, “while also referencing a term in photography.”

Mother F Stop, which was originally intended to be a blog, was born to reproduce a community of artists, photographers and people to share and discover new things, moments and experiences. The community became more than just a resource, but a place to inspire creation.

Lewis speaks very candidly about what inspires her work. 

“My work since grad school has been about nostalgia, and I like to use the word ‘hireath’ to describe it, which is a Welsh word meaning a longing for home,” Lewis continued, “but recently much of the work has been about the grieving process. My fiancé, Daniel, unexpectedly passed away about four years ago. He literally was here one day, and not the next. I felt I really couldn’t explain myself to people because I was trying to map out life without the person I was mapping out life with. I started reading works by C.S. Lewis and Cheryl Strayed, and their words really resonated with me and through reading I was able to visualize my next art pieces.”

Lewis ended up stripping down Daniel’s clothes, notebooks and med school books, and repurposing them into art that she now proudly displays in various galleries. Being vulnerable through her work allows her to connect more deeply with her viewers and help people understand grief. 

“I’d hang Daniel’s belongings in their new forms in a gallery and inevitably there would be a person who would come up and say ‘I get this,’ ‘I understand this,’ and ‘I needed to know someone else out there felt the same way as I did,’” she said.

For Carolina’s third annual Arts Everywhere Day, Mother F Stop is holding its first photography exhibit, “Inaugural”. This exhibit features work from photographers who were highlighted in the blog’s first year. On view are photographers representing 5 different countries and 13 states.  The exhibit will be located within the SAMple Gallery on the second floor of Hanes Art Center from April 1st through April 12th.  

“Each year, Arts Everywhere Day is a way for us to celebrate the power of the arts to bring people together across disciplines, interests and backgrounds. Heather’s exhibit “Inaugural” is a clear example that the arts are for everyone. She is a Carolina staff member bringing works by artists from around the world to students in Chapel Hill. It’s a win-win-win for the Carolina community,” said Kathryn Stewart, associate director of Arts Everywhere. 

Lewis said she is really excited to have the exhibition on Carolina’s campus and to be a part of Arts Everywhere. “If you’re not going to art galleries as a student, you aren’t going to be exposed to the documentaries people are shooting, different processes people are experimenting with, or art trends currently happening. I’m glad our Carolina students are getting this exposure.”      

Arts Everywhere collaborates with diverse partners to embed the arts into daily life at Carolina through creative and cutting-edge programs that promote artistic expression, live arts experiences, and learning through the arts.

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