witf Events

Through grief, artist finds her way

Written by witf.org, | Jul 3, 2013 3:01 PM

Kathy T. Hettinga, a 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 24, she designed her husband’s gravestone. The process became a part of how she dealt with her loss and grief. It also led her to an interest in the artistry of grave markers which grew into a passion for photographing cemeteries. Her 2009 book, “Grave Images,” collects images of grave markers found within southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley and created by families too poor to pay for professional grave markers.

Her large-scale digital photograph series has been exhibited widely across the country and internationally. She’s an active artist in design and handmade artist books as well. Hettinga said 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.

Ten years ago Hettinga was diagnosed with three kinds of rare cancer, but is now in remission. One of her handmade books has a title quoting the book of Psalms: “Like Bees Consumed as Burning Thorns.” The book includes digitized images of her cancer cells. She wrote: “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 in the Lowengard Atrium at the witf Public Media Center from July 16 to Sept.10, 2013.

Published in witf Events

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