Chehalis Hegner was born in Chicago in 1961. At age five her family moved to a farm an hour northwest of the city. Her early life was highly impacted by 60’s and 70’s culture, and included working on her parent’s large-scale organic gardening projects and tending the family tree farm. Her mother’s involvement in the women’s liberation movement and her father’s interest in Playboy culture greatly impacted the kinds of questions and images that would emerge years later in her photographic work.
Poet Naomi Shihab Nye writes: “Chehalis Hegner creates mesmerizing combustible windows through which longings, legends, fabulous and slightly ominous possibilities, peek their heads, and wink.”
About her art, Hegner writes: “Photography is meaningful to me because it allows me to be a witness. While our society structures life as a fragmented experience, making pictures addresses a basic need of mine to work toward a state of unity. Though I often use props such as wigs or gloves, I am not interested in creating fantasies, per se, except where these enactments help me to behold a larger truth. When an authentic experience of witnessing occurs, there is great purpose in the act of making photographs.”
In 2010 Chehalis Hegner received the Gjion Mili Photography Prize (Kosovo.) She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe in galleries including The Photographic Resource Center (Boston), The Art Institute of Boston, Maryland Art Place (Baltimore, MD), St. Gauden’s National Historic Site (Cornish, NH), The Cultural Center (Varigotti, Italy), The Interlochen Arts Academy (MI), the MIT Museum in Cambridge, and the National Gallery of Art in Kosovo.
Chehalis Hegner received her MFA in Visual Arts at the Art Institute of Boston in 2005. She is currently a member of the art department faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Having an insatiable eye, she works concurrently on multiple portfolio projects. Chehalis volunteers at the Lowell Humane Society; and serves on the board at the Photographic Resource Center on the campus of Boston University.