“For Sale” signs and broken windows adorn a large portion of buildings within Jackson’s city limits. Right next to thriving businesses can be found abandoned restaurants or forgotten startups. In the northern part of the city, the lack of uninhabited buildings is less obvious, but take a ride down 45 and it will become more apparent. It is a very sobering sight for those who call Jackson home.
For one such person, Hannah Heckart, it struck a chord within her to try and understand the reasons why parts of the city were flourishing while others seemed to be forgotten. Hannah was in high school when she moved to Jackson with her family. As she slowly integrated into her new community, the artist found herself photographing the older buildings in the downtown area.
The first building she photographed was a friend’s house showcasing the historical beauty characteristic of Jackson. But soon thereafter, she found herself drawn to places with no beauty to boast, eager to hear story they seemed to tell. Thus, Project Jackson was born.
Project Jackson is an ongoing compilation of images created by Hannah that document our city’s less thriving areas. The images highlight the beauty there while still addressing the issues that are prevalent within the community.
These issues, according to Hannah, often lie within the division that seems to exist between the north side of town and the downtown/midtown area.
“There’s a separation between the two. It’s obvious and they [rarely] mix,” Hannah explained. “There are so many places and people that are divided.”
Hannah’s main goal for Project Jackson is to bring awareness to these issues and to the division that exists. She has received criticism for her views and been discouraged from proceeding with the project in the case it offending others. She was even told by a peer to “leave Jackson the way it is.” Hannah’s response to this memory was determination and resolve.
“I don’t want to leave Jackson alone,” she said. “I’ve become a part of Jackson.”
Despite occasional disapproval, Project Jackson has received continual encouragement from those who desire to help build Jackson up. For Hannah, the project started as a way of getting to know her new surroundings but has morphed into a social project.
“This is my way of sharing Jackson with the people of Jackson,” Hannah explained, readily admitting that while she doesn’t have the answers to help bridge that division, she believes the first step is awareness and willingness to create change.
Above: This is one of Hannah’s favorite places she photographed. The walls tell the story of those who have come to this place. While considered vandalism, there is a beauty and sadness hidden in the reality of the individuals who have written the words on the underpass.
Click here to view the full Project Jackson series.