Lori Hepner

Pittsburgh, PA

Lori Hepner is an interdisciplinary artist who explores translation of code through performance, video, and photography, most notably in her series Status Symbols, which redefines portraiture though her unique approach to visually presenting individuals’ status updates on Twitter.

Lori’s work has been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, Duke University, Silver Eye Center for Photography, the 2011 Lishui International Photography Festival in China, and the 2010 PhotoEspaña Festival, among others. In 2012 she was selected as a winner of the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward international photo competition, and in 2009 she was the subject of a TEDx Lecture about her work. Lori earned an MFA in Digital Media from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design, and a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Lori holds the position of Associate Professor of Integrative Arts at Penn State Greater Allegheny and has her studio in Pittsburgh, PA.

Status Symbols

Status Symbols is a series of virtual portraits that are studies of identity in the digital age. 140 character updates on Twitter allow for virtual personas to be created that differs from physical looks. This ongoing series looks at mapping self-identity through the lens of social media updates from larger than life personalities, corporate entities, and ordinary individuals.

The abstract portraits are created with spinning LEDs that translate the words into flashing bursts of light through custom created hardware and software. These ons and offs of binary code are at the base level of digital communication. Each portrait represents a fleeting moment of identity, at least until the next status update.


M.F.A. in Digital Media, Rhode Island School of Design

B.F.A. in Fine Art Photography, Rochester Institute of Technology

Solo Exhibitions

Nothing for Any Purpose, Orange Coast College Photography Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA.

Status Symbols, SRO Photo Gallery, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.
American Life, Lishui 14th International Photography Festival (curated by Ellen Fleurov), Lishui, China.
Status Symbols for Spin 7, Houston Center for Photography, August 28, 2011, Houston, TX.

Status Symbols, Pittsburgh Technology Council, Art and Technology, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA.

Code Words, Melwood Gallery, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh, PA.

Code Words, Louise Jones Brown Gallery, Duke University, Durham, NC.
Code Words: Mutations Contained, 2008 Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA.

Select Special Projects

Crowdsourced (#Suntime #Screentime) project created over the course of 8 hours on July 12, 2013 via Crowdsourcing (curated by Robert Raczka), Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA.

Status Symbols @1stfans Twitter Art Feed (December 2009) Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY.

Group Exhibitions


Crowdsourced, #Suntime #Screentime project created over the course of 8 hours on July 12, 2013 via Crowdsourcing (curated by Robert Raczka), Space Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA.
American Life. Traveling exhibition: International Photo Festival, Dali, Yunnan, China, ShiJiaZhuang Art Museum, Hebei, China.
Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 12. Traveling exhibition: Flash Forward Festival, Boston, MA; SALT Institute for Documentary Studies, Portland; Photofusion Gallery, London, England (2012); Regent Park Arts & Cultural Centre, Toronto, Canada (2012).
Art Beat 2013, ShadySide Academy, Fox Chapel, PA.

The A.I.R. Gallery 10th Biennial, (curator, Ingrid Schaffner, senior curator, ICA Philadelphia).A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.
Visions of Yore, Gallery Hijinks, San Francisco, CA.
Interlife Crisis, Fictilis Gallery, Seattle, WA.
PWP’s International Women’s Juried Exhibition, No Gallery, NY, NY.
COLLISION17:transformer, Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media, Jamaica Plain, MA.

Keystone.1 Pennsylvania Photography Biennial, Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh, PA.
29th Anniversary Juried Membership Exhibition, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX.
Taking Part, ATHICA Gallery, Athens, GA.
De la realidad al deaseo. Descubrimientos PHE10 From Reality to Desire, Discoveries PHE10. Travelling exhibition: BilbaoArte, Bilbao, Spain; El Punto Del Carmen, Valencia, Spain (2010); Centro de las artes de Sevilla (caS), Seville, Spain (2010).
InLight Richmond, 1708 Gallery, site-specific exhibition, Richmond, VA.
100th Annual Exhibition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.
Interplay, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA.

Code Words (two person juried exhibition), New Works Gallery, Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh, PA.

Inventions/Interruptions (two-person juried exhibition), Riverviews Artspace, Lynchburg, VA.
Up Close (two-person juried exhibition), Haggerty Gallery, University of Dallas, Irving, TX.

Grants & Awards

Selected US Photographer, Flash Forward 2012, Magenta Foundation, Toronto, Canada.
Flight School Fellow, Creative Capital and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Competitive Professional Development Program for artists in South West Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, PA.

Artist Opportunity Grant, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. Awarded to attend the Lishui 14th International Photography Festival, Lishui, China.
"People" (2nd Place) for "@joejonas 30 Jul via Echofon", PWP’s International Women’s Juried Exhibition.
Merit Award, 20×20 x 20 Exhibition, LSU Union Gallery, Baton Rouge, LA.

Carnegie Museum of Art Purchase Award, Carnegie Museum of Art.
Best Demonstration of Theme Interplay, Awarded by juror, Eric Shiner, Milton Fein Curator of Art at the Andy Warhol Museum for @cnnbrk, 6:27 AM May 17th from CNN (#2).
PhotoEspaña 2010: Descubrimientos PHE Juried Review , Madrid, Spain.
Artist Opportunity Grant, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Awarded to attend PhotoEspaña 2010.

Heinz Fellowship, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Amherst, VA.
Artist Grant, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT.
Artist Opportunity Grant, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Artist Residencies

Heinz Fellow, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Amherst, VA.
Resident Artist, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT.

Heinz Fellow, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Amherst, VA.

Fellow, Saltonstall Artist Colony, Ithaca, NY.

Art Magazines and Catalogs

Next Level Magazine, Edition 22, (7 page spread with article by Louise Clements), Pittsburgh.

"Twitter Portraits by Lori Hepner", by Neil Harris, Time Magzine: Lightbox Blog.

PQ#99, In Light, Photography Now, edition #99, Woodstock Center for Photography. .
Descubrimientos PHE10 Catalog, PhotoEspaña Festival, June 2010.
Interplay Catalog, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, June 2010.

"Lori Hepner’s Binary Code" (interview with Collette Copeland) Fall 2009, Exposure Magazine

EYE BUY Lori Hepner...