Thursday, November 27, 2014

ALICIA HENRY



Re-post the ModernDallas.net of my article

A few weekends back, a high school theater teacher and I chaperoned some students to a comic/sci-fi/nerd convention. The convention was a glut of pop culture eye candy with people dressed up in outrageous costumes. Many convention goers were wearing masks of huge franchises of mass marketed characters. So when I suggested at dinner that our group hit a few galleries, the last thing I expected to see was more masks and mysterious faces. After we visited a few places in Deep Ellum, we came to Liliana Bloch Gallery and the Faces of Alicia Henry.

Out of all the shows we saw from the galleries, it seems that Alicia Henry had the most impact on the students. Personally, I hadn’t paid much attention to the press images I saw of her work and I think I might have even missed the show altogether if it weren’t for this impromptu trip. Which makes me question why I sometimes discount things from images I see on the internet, because clearly Henry’s objects had a greater impact in person. The students talked about how they identified with one face or another. Issues of self-worth and self-image were batted around while they moved to each piece. I was captured by how haunting each face felt. I could feel the shame and struggle, yet perseverance these figures seem to be portraying. I was reminded by my experience being poor when I was real young. Everything I had was hand me downs, and so too these figures look as if they are wearing old worn out clothes. Even the masked faces are hiding behind scraps. Henry draws you in, possibly making you a bit uncomfortable with her faces, but then ultimately makes you consider her faces’ individual stories.

I thought Alicia Henry’s work was a great contrast to the masks of the convention. Here was a show of faces that connected to the students and myself on a cognitive and emotional level, whereas the masked people at the convention were distant and a spectacle. After all, the costumed people are representing well tread stories that have a mass amount of people creating these stories and images, and the students all knew them. These characters were set in personalities and plots. Essentially we checked our brains at the door. Henry made us question and think about her mysterious characters that had unclear stories. Henry gave us a framework, but individual narratives about the characters were left up to the viewer. I imagined a few scenarios as did a few of the students. Henry allowed us to be creative with our imagination while staying in her parameters of content.

November 8th, the show comes down for Tennessee based artist and Fisk University professor, Alicia Henry. Next to Liliana Bloch Gallery is a much anticipated show for me; the solo show of Ryan Goolsby. His MFA show from TCU encouraged me to see more, so I look forward to seeing his upcoming conceptual minimal art.

ModernDallas.net for more images.

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