Uprooted at Waseca Art Center

Jaime, Erin and Murph © Kristine Heykants 2018

Jaime, Erin and Murph © Kristine Heykants 2018

Waseca Minnesota is a town of 9400, about a 90 minute drive from Minneapolis. Surrounded by flat cornfields with grain bins dotting the horizon, it has a visual backdrop similar to that of Belmond, Iowa (the setting for Uprooted), except for one thing: Waseca is home to a Federal Correctional Institution for women.

In 2012, my cousin Erin from Belmond joined the ranks of it’s 700 inmates, having been convicted of drug possession with intent to deliver. She was released in 2015, and her story is one reason I felt compelled to work on Uprooted. It speaks profoundly of life behind the picket fence, of the struggle for a middle class life, of living out what we’ve learned in childhood.

It seems fitting then, that I should exhibit Uprooted in Waseca, as Erin’s story has parallels to my own. I too have felt the pressure of keeping up appearances, wrestled with chemical dependency and mental health, while grasping for new ways to relate.

Join me for the opening reception for Uprooted: A Search for Meaning and Connection in Rural Iowa at the Waseca Art Center, October 19, from 5 to 8 pm. Additional information can be found here.

The Tension of Paradox

Jessica (Belmond police officer)  © Kristine Heykants 2018

Jessica (Belmond police officer) © Kristine Heykants 2018

Often I choose a project because I feel a need to explore conflicting feelings on a subject. Through photography I am able to examine many points of view, in part to satisfy my curiosity, in part to educate myself, in part to participate in a lived experience. What results typically leaves me with more diametrically opposing facts than when I started. This is certainly true of Uprooted, where my research in Belmond has permitted me to tell a more nuanced story of life in the rural Midwest . 

I find comfort and inspiration in seeing how other artists wrestle with paradox. While on summer vacation in New Mexico recently, I jumped at the chance to see a survey of work by the late Patrick Nagatani, showing at the New Mexico Museum of Art . He is known for his tongue-in-cheek treatment of serious subjects like the effects of development and deployment of nuclear weapons on humans and the environment. I was especially taken with Great Yellow Father, a picture he made in collaboration with painter Andrée Tracey. We see Nagatani himself taking a picture of flying Koi who are ostensibly jumping out of the tainted yellow river, while he is dressed in a Kodak T-shirt and baseball cap, with a dark Kodak factory off in the distance. It seems The Great Yellow Father (as Kodak is commonly called among photographers) is referring to our complicity in pollution, while pointing out the absurdity and privilege of photography as a leisurely pastime.

If you happen to be in Santa Fe, Patrick Nagatani: Invented Realities is on view until September 9, 2018.

Rootstalk Prairie Journal

Fireworks at Wright County Fair   © Kristine Heykants 2018

Fireworks at Wright County Fair  © Kristine Heykants 2018

I’m honored to have a selection of images from Uprooted included in the Spring 2018 edition of Rootstalk: A Prairie Journal of Culture, Science, and the Arts, published by the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell College. Rootstalk contains essays, poetry, photography, podcasts, and multi-media features covering topics as diverse as history of place, starting a farm-to-table coffee shop, life growing up in an early homesteading family in Kansas, and new crop seed varieties.

The Rootstalk editors chose several of my night scenes that reflect a dark undercurrent within. If you are interested in rural Midwestern culture, Rootstalk is a must-read!

Recent Commissioned Work

Shelby in Gotti  frames for  InVision      © Kristine Heykants 2018

Shelby in Gotti frames for InVision   © Kristine Heykants 2018

One of my favorite aspects of shooting commissioned work is the opportunity to apply my creative problem solving skills to address a client's specific need. InVision Distinctive Eyewear is a local full-service optical boutique specializing in unique handmade frames from Europe and Japan. In our age of online convenience bargain shopping, my challenge was to convey the custom style experience a customer can expect when shopping at InVision. We created a mix of upbeat images showcasing a fashion-forward yet authentic and accessible look. And we had a lot of fun doing it!

You can shop InVision's unique selection of eyewear at four Twin Cities locations: Grand Avenue in St. Paul, North Loop in Minneapolis, Galleria in Edina, and Wayzata Blvd in Minnetonka.