I live in a newly emptied nest. Until recently, my children were the focus of my days and the subjects of my art. In the quiet of my house, I stand between the lure of the past and the unanswered potential of the future. Just Me is a series of self-portraits exploring this crossroads, a reckoning between my deep connection to family and tradition and my desire to find my own voice in the present. Using skills passed down from my grandmothers and aunts, I create a world in front of my camera that is uniquely mine and mine to determine. I sew, paint, and collect the artifacts for each tableau. This control stands in contrast to the vulnerability I feel standing in front of the camera. Ultimately, it’s the contradiction and balance between the two that interests me most. Through this process, I am discovering who I was, who I am, and who I will be.
Jackie Heitchue’s nomadic childhood spanned the country, from the suburbs of Los Angeles to Ohio and Virginia. Finally settling in New England with her husband and children, the 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, Jackie became fascinated with the universal themes of family and motherhood that connect one generation to the next. Whether photographing her children as they grew up, or creating her most recent self-portraits, her work is both deeply personal and allegorical.
Heitchue has worked as a photographer most of her life. After graduating with a BFA from the Corcoran School of Art, she was an award-winning photojournalist for a chain of newspapers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. From there, she worked as a freelancer, a printer at the Library of Congress, and taught photography to high school students. Her current work has shown in galleries in New England, including a solo show at the Griffin Museum of Photography. Farther afield, her work was selected for publication and exhibition in the Portfolio showcase at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado. She has also shown at the Southeast Center for Photography in South Carolina and the Candela Gallery in Virginia.
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