Jack Henry: captured in time
Jack Henry is from Flint, Michigan and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His work takes from the sublime and is refocused into an urgent message… “I've been increasingly interested in the idea of the sublime as something so vast and awe-inspiring that a person measures themselves against it and feels his/her own limitations. But the modern landscape can't provide that like it once did. We have asserted our will over nature. You're more likely to find the sublime in the endless frontier of the internet, video games, or retail consumerism,” says Henry.
Henry's work is a critique on the post-industrial landscape in his hometown and is very much about found objects and abandoned buildings, remnants, seemingly more archaeological than environmental. “But to tell that story is to inadvertently reference pollution, detritus, and environmental disaffection. And I became more concerned with those issues as a result. I want to recreate the majesty of wilderness while showing that it has been corrupted. Maybe still beautiful in a classic sense, but forever changed; plastic, contained, damaged,” Henry explains.
The American sculptor, David Smith (1906 - 1965) used found objects as a transformative tool, taking his work into the next dimension. Similarly, Henry casts his found objects in resin evoking the ghostly presence of what once was, the remnants of truth and innocence. Henry like Smith, creates work motivated by impermanent connections between experience and nature, works that are at once self-contained yet expressively all expansive.* Smith (like Henry) juxtaposed elements at odd and seemingly haphazard angles, in dynamically unstable arrangements that communicate an effect of weightlessness and freedom.**
You can see and feel the majesty of wilderness in Henry’s work. It is beautiful in a classic sense. The surreal undertones of destruction are intricately crafted into a magical package. The association with the recast objects placed in space and in time and juxtaposed with a familiarity that holds true in the vast undercurrent of knowledge of change… Like a dream being used to solve the fundamental questions of our existence. As we move into the Anthropocene, the geological age which is viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment, Henry’s work speaks to the romanticism of this age by relating to the human relationship with nature and its impact. The mystery of the evolutionary psychology of this human/nature relationship needs to be reconfigured and asks the question, "how do the disconnected become reconnected to the truth?".
In a quest for truth Henry has joined the Extinction Rebellion, a protest group whose first mission is to get people to "tell the truth". Many governments, institutions, and media companies still do not formally acknowledge that there is a climate emergency. “Getting them to acknowledge the truth and make a public declaration to take climate action is the first step to avoiding the catastrophe we're facing. I'm involved with a subgroup focused on art institutions”, says Henry.
In 2019 while participating in a residency for ecological artists at the Banff Centre Henry met the artist Michael Handley. Their exhibition at Beverly's - the former LES bar that had art shows and has opened a new art gallery in Chinatown with artist Heidi Norton. Henry says, “all three of us deal with issues of nature, wilderness, preservation, entropy, and death. What I find interesting about our work is that each of us acknowledges the destruction caused by mankind and the haphazard attempts of rectifying that.”
-Laura Horne, December 30, 2020, New York