Lillian Heller began her devotion to sculpture at the age of sixty. Although she was always artistic, it was not until her retirement that she was able to fully develop her passion for sculpture.
Lillian was born in 1917 in New York City. In 1939, she married Harry Heller. Over the next forty years, they established several successful businesses in New York. In 1977, she began to study sculpture with Dino Fabrizio in Manhattan.
Though she came to her art late in life, Lillian was a prolific sculptor, producing more than 100 works of art in marble, alabaster, wood, bronze, and clay. A highlight of her artistic career was in September 1990 when she traveled to Italy with her instructor to sculpt in travertine marble. She used a jackhammer to cut out her selected stone from the quarry.
Lillian’s sculptures were exhibited at shows associated with her studios in New York and Westchester. She declined numerous offers for purchase, choosing instead to give many pieces to friends and family as cherished gifts.
Lillian had a great love and appreciation for sculptors and their work, and her enthusiasm for sculpture became a significant part of her life. After her son and daughter-in-law, Philip and Anita Heller, moved across the road from Chesterwood, Lillian visited Chesterwood’s annual sculpture shows and demonstrations every summer.
Lillian created art nearly to the end of her life. She passed away in June 2004 surrounded by her sculptures. Those sculptures remain as a testament to her creativity and passion.
To memorialize Lillian’s love of the arts and her commitment to encourage and recognize sculptors, Lillian’s sons Philip and Fred Heller, their wives Anita and Cynthia Heller, together with her grandchildren Benjamin Heller, Gregory Heller, Elizabeth Pyle, and her husband Jeffrey, have established an endowment to fund the annual Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood Curator’s Award named in her honor.