Heather Straka (b. 1972) has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture from Elam School of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts from University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. Straka has been granted a number of awards and held several residencies, including the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago. The flawless nature of her early sculptural work was to be a precursor to the immaculate technique and precision that has come to characterise her paintings. Her practice regularly explores the nature of authenticity and issues around representation. Earlier works saw her reimagine nineteenth-century portraits by Sydney Parkinson and Gottfried Lindauer. Straka's project TheAsian saw the mass duplication by Chinese artisans of Straka's interpretation of a portrait based on those Shanghai Girls seen in early 20th century calendar painting. Straka's series Defenders of New Zealand explores early colonial landscape painting, while other figurative works see her turn attention to more contemporary subject matter, reflecting Aotearoa's increasingly multicultural identity.