100 21st St E – Heather D. Byers

featured image
100 21st St E – Heather D. Byers

Heather D. Byers is a Wichita-based sewist, artist, and North High grad.

My earliest memories are of drawing and painting people. I had the great fortune of proctoring for art teachers at both Hadley Middle School and Wichita HS North and really learned a lot from the one on one time with my teachers. Portraits have been my focus since I was very young. I love the stories behind every face. In 2017, I set a goal for myself and painted 100 portraits and showed the collection in four different art shows. My intention was to create a small representation of our global community and to encourage us all to look for the good in others. Last year, I also took part in Avenue Art Days by painting a 70-foot mural over the Wichita IndoChinese Center in two days with my collaborator, Kevin Stanberry, and a group of eager friends and family.

Five years ago, I started my own business (Feather B) sewing handmade toys and decor and have since participated in the local art/maker scene. I was a portrait painter first, drawing and painting people as long as I can remember.  Now, I continue to draw and paint portraits using a variety of techniques and supplies.

“The Women Who Mold Us”

For this mural, I’ve poured through photos of the women in my family, specifically those with ties to the NorthEnd neighborhood. The top left image is a sketch based on a photo that was taken 75 years ago on N. Market with my great-grandmother and grandmother (infant). There are sisters and cousins, women who grew up in this neighborhood and have spent time together telling me stories of younger days. Among the photos are a cousin of mine who danced at Evergreen Community Center for Dia De Los Muertos 15-20 years ago, a few North High grads including one who only this year got to sign the tower with the seniors over 30 years after her graduation because she wasn’t allowed as a pregnant teenager, a great grandmother who started breakfast services for the neighborhood at the First Mexican Baptist Church, and memories of childhood and teenage years.