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Art professor’s photography garners international acclaim

ChinquinquiraThroughout her career, Messiah College Professor of Art and Design Kathy Hettinga has traveled the globe to take photographs of churches and cemeteries, places that provide what she calls “a balm to grief.”

Documenting cemeteries is the latest chapter in a career-long project that began when she was widowed at 24 and designed her late husband’s gravestone. The experience prompted her to begin studying and photographing grave markers in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, where she grew up.

Over time, Hettinga’s photography has become well known and has been displayed in galleries across the country and even internationally. She is actively involved in design and handmade artist books.

Her journey eventually brought her to the Chinquiquira Cemetery in Colombia, the setting for her photography recently featured in the “Dispatches From Latin America” newsletter.

The article, published Aug. 6, vividly describes the Colombian scenery Hettinga captured through the lens of her camera. One of the images, “Chinquiquira Mausoleum, Colombia,” was among the winners of the Latin American Fotografía  of American Illustration-American Photography juried art competition in 2012.

Cartagena“The recent focus on this photograph has reinvigorated my desire to shape these images and the touching narratives into a permanent book that can be shared with others,” said Hettinga.

In the summer of 2013, Hettinga received the Artists’ Book Residency Grant from the Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW).  The WSW is the largest publisher of artists’ books. The grant includes a residency in Upstate New York and the necessary funds for Hettinga to do her work.

Her next project, which has been underway for the past two years, focuses on the changing landscapes of the San Luis Valley, which she calls a catalyst for a “serious series about frailty, place, loss and the struggles for good stewardship.”

Story by Jeremy Ross ’16 and Rose Talbot ’16

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