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Jon Henry: Stranger Fruit

September 8 October 1, 2017

NURTUREart presents Jon Henry’s Stranger Fruit, the first exhibition of our 2017–2018 20th Anniversary Season.

Stranger Fruit is a collection of photographs by Jon Henry that summons divine and powerful love in the face of vulnerability and heartless violence.

By honoring and memorializing Black mothers’ imaginations, Henry undertakes the historic practice of unarmed Black men systematically targeted and killed by unindicted police force. Through word-of-mouth connections, Henry meets with Black women across communities in several U.S. cities inviting them to pose with their sons as Pietas, the classic Christian icon of Mary—mater dolorosa, or the grieving mother—cradling her fallen child.

The women in Jon Henry’s poignant photographs have not lost their sons, but they embody the real possibility of a violent loss. Their encounters with the artist, each contained in a specific time and space, unlock an imagined future extracted from the present. In conversations with Henry, the women reflect on the precarity of their sons’ lives, their diminished power to project their sons from the state police apparatus, and their strength of faith. Individual Black mother-son relationships powerfully affirm their love, humanity, and resilience despite ongoing police brutality.

Excerpts of Jon Henry’s conversations with the mothers will be displayed alongside the photographs as well as available in a printed archive.

Jon Henry is an artist born and raised in Queens, New York. He studied at CUNY Queens College and New York Film Academy. He is a visual artist working primarily with photography. His practice focuses primarily on two subjects: the black family and athleticism. Specific to the black family, including his own and the larger black community, Henry looks at the mother-son relationship in the wake of murdered African American men due to police violence. He also focuses on athletes and their representation in a fine art context.

Stranger Fruit was recently selected by Smack Mellon for Hot Picks 2017 and the project was also on the short list for the Lucie Foundation grant.