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Art & Life with Jackie Heitchue

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jackie Heitchue.

Jackie, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Most photographers will tell you they have a long history behind the camera. I fit that cliché. One way or another, I’ve been taking and making pictures most of my life. For years I worked as a photojournalist and freelancer, then as a printer in the photo lab of the Library of Congress, and finally as a high school photography teacher. But it wasn’t until moving to Connecticut with my husband and children that I began to develop (pun intended) my own artistic voice.

While my childhood was nomadic, my roots run several centuries deep in New England. Our move felt like a homecoming, a sentiment borne out by a family lineage of Puritans, indentured servants, and an unfortunate Salem witch. Ruminating over these historic connections while engrossed in the daily minutia of child-rearing, I became fascinated with the universal themes of family and motherhood that connect one generation to the next. Whether photographing my children as they’ve grown up, or creating my latest portfolio of self-portraits, my work is both personal and allegorical.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a self-described wallflower, rooted in the private mysteries of home and family. My images are my story, as told by a mostly reliable narrator. The subjects I photograph are gathered from my immediate surroundings: my children, our beloved dog, household artifacts, and the natural world outside our door. Individually, each image is a story in itself. Taken as a whole, this work is a fable of motherhood, love, and the inevitability of loss.

Though my pictures are personal documents of my life as I imagine it, I construct each vignette to be allegorical. I build scenes like miniature stage sets, often tucked into quiet corners of my house, using the natural light of a hallway window to illuminate them. While my themes come out of my experience watching my children grow up and away, I try to avoid specific references to our time or place. An antique bowl and the collar of a soldier’s uniform are clues to my history, but they are not meant to lead all viewers to the same conclusion. My subjects are commonplace, but I make them iconic through carefully balanced compositions. The inherent stillness of this formality is often contradicted by a sense of impending drama. My work is meant to be deceptively calm and forcefully serene. I like the underlying tensions at play and the uncertainty they create: formality versus familiarity, the mix of the real with make believe, the mundane made beautiful.

Inevitably, each of these quiet moments will slip away, leaving the image as proof of an enduring narrative. Within families there are moments of intimacy and solitude. The present is continually falling into the past. Love and loss are inextricably linked.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
There are different kinds of success. The most important to me is the eureka moment when I see an image in my camera that grew out of a thought rattling around in my daydreams. Sometimes I’ll think about a picture for months before I finally bring all the elements together. The moment the idea becomes tangible is magical, but it takes a lot of trial and inevitable error to get to that point. The other kind of success comes from finding an audience for my work. It’s a very humbling experience sharing work that is so personal and discovering that other people find value in it.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I’ve shown my work locally, and as far afield as the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado. Most recently, I’ve been involved with PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont and the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester. I have a solo show that’s currently at their SoWa gallery, and this fall I’ll have work in the Griffin’s Atelier 28 exhibit. My website offers a more complete sampling of my work at jackieheitchue.com. I can be found on Instagram at jackieheitchue.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 404 Opening Hill Road
    Madison, CT 06443
  • Website: jackieheitchue.com
  • Phone: 203-974-9786
  • Email: jackieheitchue@sbcglobal.net
  • Instagram: jackieheitchue
  • Facebook: Jackie Heitchue

Image Credit:
All photos credit of Jackie Heitchue

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