Location: Dillsburg, PA
Featured Work: Pathology Poetics
Describe your featured work
Several years ago I documented my cancer story extensively, gathering visual ephemera and journaling about the experience. The resulting letterpress book looks at the poetry found in the pathology report, pairing the words with digital scans of various cells from the pathology slides. When I met with the pathologist, he showed me how he made the slides using thin slices of tissue impregnated with wax and then placed under glass. In reading his lab report I was struck by its poetry – phrases like “pale pink-tan mucosa,” “rare subserosal cysts with smooth glistening serosa,” and “thin-walled cysts near the fimbriated end.” On the book page, I placed the text of select journal entries next to the image of the fimbriated (fringed) end of the fallopian tube. Pathology Poetics is a continuation of my artist’s book series. I am interested in how personal stories demonstrate symbolic correspondence – how the parallel structures of experience and understanding reveal connections between the physical and the spiritual/metaphysical. A statement made by my Cuban oncologist to me after surgery, “And I held your beautiful liver,” is striking when I consider the correspondence of his knowledge of a patient’s insides to God’s knowledge of us. God knows us inside and out, from our inward parts to our thoughts (Psalm 139). As an artist I find that the personal narrative is a place where signs and symbols of ordinary life contain and point to larger truths.
I am passionate about the land and its people. I grew up in the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado. My book, Grave Images, documents how people faced death and created the art found in the SLV cemeteries. Jocelyn Jurich, critic for Bookforum and Village Voice said this about Grave Images, “This is simply an amazing book. Rarely does a work so exquisitely or effectively combine cultural history, cultural criticism, personal narrative, and documentary photography to reveal physical, aesthetic, and spiritual spaces.” I am a true believer in the beauty and mystery of place, exploring the human tendency to embrace place – even though life is temporal. My working methods include extensive research, image-gathering, photographs, drawings, narrative stories, and scientific data to create books: serious trade books, limited edition artists’ books, photobooks, and interactive digital books. I am interested in how the personal narrative reveals spiritual spaces.
What are you making now?
I am designing a book commissioned by a spiritual director on her long- distance conversations with her mother. The text is set in Zuzana Licko’s Ms. Eaves, each chapter opening using Licko’s Hypnopaedia patterns. It is a delight to use the fonts of my favorite type designer. Additionally, I am excited to be working on both material-bound and interactive digital books. 4 3 2 CRY is sold out and in many excellent book arts collections from Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library to UC Berkeley’s Environmental Design Library, and I’ve created a trade edition that is sold by Vamp and Tramp book sellers. This trade edition was juried into the College Book Arts Association exhibition Rising Together | an Exhibition of Zines, Artists’ Books and Prints with a Social Conscience, which will travel from 2018-2021 to various locations throughout the country.
Why do you belong to CIVA?
I am perennially engaged in “Serious Art. Serious Faith.” – from aesthetics with Nick Wolterstorff at Calvin, and later at Yale, to my present work in image and story. Fresh out of graduate school, I attended a CIVA biennial conference at Calvin and made connections which eventually garnered me a tenured position at Indiana Purdue. Shortly afterward, Messiah College called me to teach and create their design program, and then we hosted our first CIVA conference. Through the years of attending CIVA conferences, I’ve made many life-long friends – mostly thanks to rooming with the talented women artists in CIVA! It was a privilege to serve with people of faith on the CIVA Board and the Editorial/Publications Committee. I cannot put into words the deep joy and rewarding experience of the decade of designing the SEEN Journal with dear friend, Barry Krammes. CIVA abides as the relational community of art and faith and is vital to many.
Kathy T. Hettinga is an award-winning artist, designer, and photographer who holds a BFA from Calvin College and an MFA from Colorado State University. She is the first woman to receive the Distinguished Professorship at Messiah College. She has taught at Indiana Purdue, Colorado State, and for IMAGE in Santa Fe. Hettinga’s residencies and fellowships include Yale’s Institute of Sacred Arts, Luce Center for Arts and Religion, Pyramid Atlantic, and WSW. Her works are in numerous institutional and museum collections including Yale, UCLA, Fogg Museum of Harvard, NMWA, and the Library of Congress. See her books at Vamp & Tramp Booksellers.