It is fair to say that 2020 is a year Erik Madigan Heck will never forget. While working overseas in January, before ‘Covid-19’ had widely entered the American lexicon, he became infected with the coronavirus, which quickly infected his wife and muse, Brianna Killion Heck, their two young sons, and his mother- who was already battling metastatic cancer. Brianna and the boys recovered, but Erik’s mother, a central figure in his life, did not. It was a devastating loss to say the least.
As the worldwide lockdowns began in March, the artist, who has spent years hopping from one long-distance assignment to the next, dug into his studio at home. With Brianna stepping in as his main model, Heck continued producing work for commercial clients while wrapping a four-year-long personal project with his family titled The Garden. Shot outdoors on the property of their Litchfield County estate, The Garden is a modern fairy tale woven together by Heck’s photographs and poetry he wrote following his mother’s passing. Prints from the project are on display at four galleries this winter: Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich (September 4, 2020 - January 30, 2021); Weinstein Hammons Gallery, Minneapolis (starting October 15, 2020); Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto (October 1 - 24, 2020); and Jackson Fine Arts, Atlanta (November 13, 2020 - January 30, 2021).
Shawn Waldron spoke to the artist in November over Zoom about The Garden, working during Covid, and the effects of identity politics on the media landscape and photography world today.