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Jon Henry: Stranger Fruit

February 4, 2021 - March 27, 2021

Film photograph of a woman wearing a necklace and a colorful dress, sitting at a dinner table before an empty plate, with a vacant place set beside her. A warm yellow light hangs above her head. Except for display shelves, upon which sit a television, a candle, two radios and a few stacked containers, the background of the photo is mostly shadowed.

February 4–March 27, 2021

Artist talk: Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 5:00 PM

Stranger Fruit was created in response to the senseless murders of black men across the nation by police violence. Even with smart phones and dash cams recording the actions, more lives get cut short due to unnecessary and excessive violence. Who is next? Me? My brother? My friends? How do we protect these men?

Lost in the furor of media coverage, lawsuits and protests is the plight of the mother. Who, regardless of the legal outcome, must carry on without her child. I set out to photograph mothers with their sons in their environment, reenacting what it must feel like to endure this pain. The mothers in the photographs have not lost their sons, but understand the reality, that this could happen to their family. The mother is also photographed in isolation, reflecting on the absence. When the trials are over, the protesters have gone home and the news cameras gone, it is the mother left. Left to mourn, to survive.

The title of the project is a reference to the song “Strange Fruit.” Instead of black bodies hanging from the Poplar Tree, these fruits of our families, our communities, are being killed in the street.

Jon Henry is a visual artist working with photography and text, from Queens NY, now residing in Brooklyn. His work reflects on family, socio-political issues, grief, trauma and healing within the African American community. His work has been published both nationally and internationally and exhibited in numerous galleries including Aperture Foundation, Smack Mellon, and BRIC among others. Known foremost for cultural activism in his work, his projects include studies of athletes from different sports and their representations. He was recently awarded the Arnold Newman Grant for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture and a 2020 En Foco Fellowship. Henry was named one of LensCulture’s Emerging Artists for 2019 and won the Film Photo Prize for Continuing Film Project sponsored by Kodak.

Please visit enfoco.org for more information about the En Foco Fellowship program.



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