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JON HENRY IS A VISUAL ARTIST from Queens, New York, working with photography and text. In this series, Stranger Fruit, he has been photographing Black mothers and sons in response to the murders of young Black men by police. The project began with the motif of the pietà, in which Mary cradles the body of Jesus after he is taken down from the cross. The first part of the series is made up of images of mothers and sons, recreating that moment of overwhelming grief and suffering. The second is made up of portraits of mothers looking away from the camera. Finally, there are texts written by the mothers in response to questions from the artist. The women pictured here have not lost their sons, but they understand the reality that this could happen to their children, families, or someone in their communities at any time.

Jon Henry. Untitled #44,Crenshaw Boulevard, California, 2019. Digital archive print. 30 x 24 inches.

 

As I was gradually pulled into the scene and told about the pose, it made me think of the daily thoughts I have about my son. I have thoughts of love, change, determination, growth, and encouragement. I also have concerns about his health and safety as they relate to the growing conditions across this nation with African American males.

[from a mother’s text for Stranger Fruit]

Jon Henry. Untitled #24, Birmingham, Alabama, 2016. Digital archive print. 30 x 24 inches.

 

Jon Henry. Untitled #35, North Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2019. Digital archive print. 30 x 24 inches.

 

Jon Henry. Untitled #49, Washington, DC, 2019. Digital archive print. 30 x 24 inches.

 

Jon Henry. Untitled #39, Santa Monica, California, 2019. Digital archive print. 30 x 24 inches.

 

Jon Henry. Untitled #57, Houston, Texas, 2020. Digital archive print. 13 x 16 inches.

 

When I wake up and before I sleep at night, my son is the one person that’s always on my mind. I want to know that he’s safe.

[from a mother’s text for Stranger Fruit]

Jon Henry. Untitled #4, Harlem, New York, 2015. Digital archive print. 13 x 16 inches.

 

It only increases my concern over the current state of affairs in this country regarding race and gender.

[from a mother’s text for Stranger Fruit]

Jon Henry. Untitled #55, Little Rock, Arkansas, 2020. Digital archive print. 30 x 24 inches.

 

 


Jon Henry’s art has been published nationally and internationally and exhibited in numerous galleries, including Aperture Foundation, Smack Mellon, and BRIC. His work reflects on family, politics, grief, trauma, and healing within the Black community, and athletes and their representations.

 

 

 

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