Thursday, July 5, 2012

Portfolio Showcase Artists: Cynthia Henebry

Children are perennially popular subjects in photography, both in family albums and fine art. For Cynthia Henebry, what started out as a collection of family photographs of her children and their friends has evolved into a charming and intelligent portfolio exploring the experience of childhood itself. “Children have a remarkable ability to be in the present that I find transfixing, and photographing them helps me to engender this ability in myself. I realized that my compulsion to do this work came from somewhere else, too – that there are certain children, and certain scenes, that hold my interest more.”

                                         Sofia and the Conch Shell

Henebry says that it is her instinct that drives her shoots: “I know exactly when I see a moment that I want to get and I have become quite relentless in moving in for it. The success of this relentlessness is evidenced in the honesty present in her images, from the laid-back satisfaction in Eloise on the Phone to the palpable disappointment in Easter Sunday.

                                         Eloise on the Phone

                                         Easter Sunday

But this project is not only about the children; Henebry is also discovering things about herself through this process.

"For whatever series of simple or complicated reasons, I have very few memories of my own childhood, and it remains an intriguing mystery to me. I realized that I was trying to understand what might have happened to me, and also what happens to the children in my life now, and that the camera could help me do this."
This desire for exploration is made very clear in whimsical images such as School Picnic, which show a fascination with the simple joys of life.

                                         School Picnic

Henebry finds it difficult to recognize herself and her work as a part of the art world. “I only started thinking about myself as having any kind of place in contemporary art until about a year ago.” But increased recognition has had its perks. “The thing I have loved most about achieving some recognition as a photographer is getting to connect with other photographers and talk about what we love most.” Even so, Henebry recognizes that her most important critic is herself.

"Accolades from others feel great in the moment, but usually within an hour or a day I can talk myself out of feeling satisfied about it. The good feeling of making a great photograph lasts much, much longer for me, and perhaps that’s one reason why I’m addicted to making photographs."
                                         Inside Window

Cynthia Henebry’s portfolio, Waking State, is on view at The Kiernan Gallery as part of our Portfolio Showcase through July 14.

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