An interview with a very interesting person

Did I peak your interest? Mahan Gallery did a Q&A with me. Here’s a little insight into my brain.

Q&A with Lacey Hedtke


Lacey Hedtke, Ice Rendering, 10 x 10 inches, dryplate tintype, 2010

Hi Lacey, Where do you live / work?
I live and work in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Can you tell us a little about your studio space/techniques/what gets you in the mood to create work/a little about your process/ times you like to work/etc?
Well, I moved in to a house full of people, which means I can’t convert my kitchen and bathroom into a darkroom anymore. I’ve commandeered the shower in the basement as my darkroom. I’m hoping to buy a house to build a glorious darkroom and studio soon. I work on something creative in almost all my spare time. It’s not really about getting into the mood for me–it’s just part of my momentum.

Tell us a little about the art scene in your city if you could. Do you feel like you fit in or are an outsider? Is it very active? Does the artistic community in your city help you create work?
It’s so great! We’ve got a lot of eclectic stuff going on. I love Minneapolis because the rent is relatively cheap, so a collective that wants a space, or an alternative art gallery can afford a space and can afford to survive. I feel there is a lot of eccentrics in the Twin Cites, and there is a lot of funding for art. We’ve got great curators, and I feel like it’s really supportive.  I do think we have a complex where people don’t feel like you’ve made it until you’ve made it somewhere else. The winter really influences us–we’re holed up for months, sitting inside getting cabin fever and crazy ideas. I think that adds to the spectacular music and art scene here. I think the art scene’s impact on me and everyone is a great sense of “hey, I can do that too.” We have a great history of collectives, skillshares, and people getting together to make and be productive for the greater community.

Who are your favorite Artists or Artistic Influences? Julia Margaret Cameron, Miss Pussycat, Sally Mann, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Mark and France Scully Osterman, E.J. Belloq, Diane di Prima, Bonnell Robinson

Is there anything else you consider an influence on your art? Boston, New Orleans, haunted houses, weird stories, losing things and never finding them, northern Minnesota, my cabins and ancestors, librarians, archivists, good whiskey, the 19th century, and ghosts.

Lacey Hedtke, Necromancy, 10 x 10 inches, dryplate tintype, 2010

Where did you attend college and how did it effect your creative process?
I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the Art Institute of Boston in Boston, MA in 2003 and a Master of Library and Information Science from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN in 2008. I also went to an arts high school for the last two years of school at the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, MN. Since I was 16 I’ve been making art everyday, and I think going to art school in Boston made that even more a part of my everyday life. I’ve always wanted to be a librarian, so I went to library school, thinking it would give me a more “practical” skill, but there were some twists and turns there.

Describe what you’d like your work to do- any ideas in particular you are looking to get across?
I hope people will get a sense of place and a feel for the things in the images. I’ve always been really into psychometry and energy–the idea that objects hold energy, so I’d like that to translate. If nothing else, I’d like to make something really beautiful to give people that rushing feeling that I get when I make and look at them. It’s a good split-second break from reality.

Is there a particular reason you work in your chosen medium? Have you experimented with other techniques/mediums or is this what you’ve always felt comfortable with? Do you see yourself crossing over into other formats?
All of my work is about process. If it’s easy I feel like I’m cheating myself. I’m really hard on myself, and being both a perfectionist and willing to take whatever comes out of my camera, I have a strange relationship with photography. I’ve always done some sort of photography, and my love for mechanically reproducing has led me into zine making, letterpressing, and Gocco screenprinting. After I finished art school, I didn’t have a darkroom, so my dad built me a UV lightbox and I made cyanotypes and Van Dykes in my kitchen. I met a Civil War reenactor who was making tintypes out of a trunk who had taught himself the process, and I thought if he could do it, I could too. So I started experimenting with the dryplate tintype process, and loved how it looked.  I just got a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to digitize and archive my great-grandfather’s negatives, scrapbooks, and papers, and do research and make tintypes on the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. I’m going to build a traveling darkroom and learn the wet plate collodion process. I’d really love to learn to make cheese and have bees and chickens, that’s helping create in a different way.

What is a typical creative day like for you?
My dog pounces on me, my boyfriend makes me an elaborate breakfast, and either I do some research, or I shoot some tintypes. I might have a zine order or show coming up, so depending on what show or deadline is coming up I’ll be assembling zines or making photos. Maybe my band will practice, or maybe I’ll get sucked into reading about some esoterica. I’m also on a few editorial boards, so I do a lot of editing, emailing, and planning, too. It feels weird to sit and do nothing. I have to practice that.

Are you able to live completely off of your art, or do you work other jobs to support yourself? If so, what do you do? I wish. I’m the Alternative Photo Processes Instructor at the Mpls Photo Center, and the Grants Assistant at Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and am a Sex Educator at the Smitten Kitten, a feminist sex shop. I also write for l’etoile Magazine, and sell zines.

Do you see yourself going in the same way with your work, or doing this for the rest of your life? Is there anything else you would have or would like to pursue beyond making art?
All I can really predict is that I’ll try a million different things. I’d like to maybe get a PhD in the history of photography. I’d like to buy a house. Maybe I’d like to try having my own business, or start a collective to build a resource center. I’d really love to learn to make daguerreotypes, but that is serious business. I’d like to get my dog a little more under control. I’d like to publish a book. I’d like to get a little platen press and do more letterpressing and learn how to make hair jewelry–like jewelry and wreaths made from hair. There’s always something to do.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I really loved Columbus, OH when I visited! What an awesome city! I want to live in German Village and walk out to cobblestones everyday. I was really impressed at how many people came out for the Gallery Hop.


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