In Conversation with Dev Heyrana

We sit down with artist Dev Heyrana, who illustrated our VOL ⑨ — FACES pack for a chat and a snap with photographer Michael Sullivan.

Dev Heyrana
For Dev, art began as a mirror to the world around her, painting palm trees at 5 years old in the Philippines. Then at the age of 9, it became a refuge, in response to the shock of immigrating to the US. It continues to be a space of healing, comfort, voice, and joy. Her textured works tell stories of different cultures, symbolism, and reflect her day-to-day existence for herself and family. She has shifted from whimsical illustrations and patterns which echo her graphic design background to a moving series exploring  skin tones inspired by her daughter’s frustration to create a self portrait. Most recently, the Oakland-based artist was featured in the De Young Open, showing her latest work “Woven.”
Q: What is your favorite rainy day activity to do with the kids?
A: Swimming! Oh it’s the best. I did it in The Philippines when I was a kid and to do it with my girls is so fun! It feels like we’re doing something you’re not suppose to and when you do it, you’re wondering why you don’t do it all the time when it’s raining. 
Q: What is your favorite art supply?
A: Crayons. I feel like everyone has a connection with them. It’s small, easy to pack, accessible, and nostalgic. It breaks through generations and adults can connect with kids because we all grew up with it. I use it for my Color Together Classes for that reason and because almost everyone has it. There are so many ways to use it. You can layer it and because it’s wax based, you can see how it reacts to wet materials. I have it in my purse not just for my girls when we go out but really so I can use them too if an idea pops up.  
Q: What is your favorite place to take the kids?
A: If I was to pick one it would be The Berkeley Botanical Garden. The Bay Area has unique micro climates where you can grow most of the worlds botanicals. The Berkeley Botanical Garden is nestled at the top of the hills where you get it all. Where the Rose Garden is, if the fog is sleeping, you can see the most spectacular view of the bay. The girls know their way around it so well, they take me to their favorite parts. We have a favorite bench where we eat a snack, they see tadpoles in the spring, and they know which flowers are blooming during each season. The best is I let them pick 2-3 flowers and they draw them. Ro is my Abstract Artist and she can draw an image with a few strokes and Quinn is my Impressionist where she has to sit there longer to capture the light. It’s beautiful to see, reflective on who they are and it teaches me how to express myself as an artist. I love it. 
Q: How does Kehinde Wiley's work insire you?
A: I felt a kindred connection. Art needs to celebrate the fabric that has built us; that our community and culture is beautiful. Our country is built by their influences, why not take up space in public spaces, galleries and museums? There is something so profound by celebrating who you know. As an adult, it's so meaningful to see. I can only imagine my children seeing his work. To know this is what they see in art is moving.