Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.
Kathy T. Hettinga , Professor of Art at Messiah College, grew up in the high mountain desert region of southern Colorado, an area rich in landscapes and cultural intersections. Widowed at the early age of 24, she designed her husband’s gravestone. The process became a part of dealing with her loss and grief. It also led her to an interest in the artistry of grave markers. In their expressiveness she found the comfort of shared sorrow. Her interest grew into a passion for photographing cemeteries. Her 2009 trade book, Grave Images, is a collection of photos of homemade grave markers in southern Colorado's San Luis Valley created by families too poor to pay for professional grave markers.
Her large-scale digital photograph series have been exhibited widely across the country and internationally. She’s an active artist in design and handmade artist books as well. Hettinga says that in her work she wants “to offer comfort to the viewer on issues of death, fragility and facing our own mortality.” One of her digital print series features scanned images of the bodies of small animals enlarged to human size.
Though in remission now, ten years ago, Hettinga was diagnosed with three kinds of rare cancer. One of her handmade artist books has a title quoting the book of Psalms, Like Bees Consumed as Burning Thorns. The book includes digitized images of her own cancer cells. She writes, "In the book modern day enemies – such as cancer and others unnamed – swarm like bees, yet are consumed as burning thorns.”
That book, along with some of her grave images and a series of photographs on fracking , will be part of an exhibit of her work on display in the Lowengard Atrium at the witf Public Media Center during business hours from July 16 to September 10.
Below you can hear our interview with Professor Hettinga:
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