What's in the Name?

Light snow cover, 2014 (from Uprooted)   © Kristine Heykants 2017

Light snow cover, 2014 (from Uprooted  © Kristine Heykants 2017

As I seek to expand the reach of Uprooted: A Search for Meaning and Connection in Rural Iowa, I presented last month at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Washington DC. I gained valuable feedback allowing me to refine the project's focus. I received a few questions about the title, which I share here:

Q: Who or what are you referring to as Uprooted?

A: Central to the project is the idea of sense of place, and how it forms the basis for identity. On a personal level, Uprooted refers to being pulled from a place or a set of values. It also refers to agriculture and plants, and the vanishing way of life I knew as a child in Belmond.

Q: Can you say more about connection in the context of Uprooted?

A: In the simplest sense, I am searching for connection with a place where I lost touch. In a more holistic sense, it's about people relating to one another, both within the town, and between the town and the country at large. I get the feeling there is a disconnect between rural and urban life, and I want to explore that a little more.

Personal Expression in Documentary Photography

Minnesota Bodybuilding competition - Hinckley, 1996 (from American Beauty)   © Kristine Heykants 2017

Minnesota Bodybuilding competition - Hinckley, 1996 (from American Beauty  © Kristine Heykants 2017

Not long ago, I happened upon the book Arbus Friedlander Winogrand: New Documents, 1967 in my favorite museum gift shop. Recently published on the 50th anniversary of the MoMA exhibition of the same name, it was curated by longtime proponent of art photography John Szarkowski. Prior to the 1960s, he contended, documentary photography focused on social issues. For him, the featured photographers presented a new direction in photography. "Their aim has been not to reform life, but to know it," he said.

For a couple of generations now, Diane Arbus and Gary Winogrand have been influential to artists who look to the peculiarities of everyday life for inspiration. With my pictures, I aim to share the quirks of my experience with my audience.

Nature, Balance and the Detective Novel

Development near Clear Lake, 2015 (from Uprooted)   © Kristine Heykants 2017

Development near Clear Lake, 2015 (from Uprooted  © Kristine Heykants 2017

I am a self-confessed junkie of murder mystery novels. Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, Sarah Paretsky, Donna Leon and so many others have written stories that cater to my preferred literary functions: a) social commentary, and b) escapism .

My current binge-read is Tony Hillerman, the acclaimed raconteur of the Navajo Way philosophy. Analytical and traditional perspectives are played through characters Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Sgt. Jim Chee, officers in the Navajo Tribal Police. At stake is the importance of being in balance with nature, with all beings having their particular role to play.

Nature is a revitalizing remedy to the energy demands of our modern lifestyles. This post is dedicated to the love of nature and the balance it provides.

Uprooted to be presented in Washington DC

Tanna, Kyle and family, from Uprooted   © Kristine Heykants 2017

Tanna, Kyle and family, from Uprooted   © Kristine Heykants 2017

Photography, like the written word, does not exist inside the box of one discipline. An example is the extraordinary work of documentary and humanitarian photographer Eugene Richards. He has amassed a pile of awards from the heavy-hitters of awarding institutions: The Guggenheim Foundation, ICP Infinity Awards, World Press Photo to name a few. His pictures are represented by art galleries and the most prestigious museums. He has been know to accept corporate and advertising commissions. 

There is pressure for lesser-known artists to create a "brand" in order to stand out in a media-saturated world. This leads to my point: I'm going to Washington DC in November to present Uprooted alongside a group of academic researchers and artists in a panel on innovative visual research methods at the American Association of Anthropology's annual conference.

From this day forward: Brand be damned!