Often focusing on the bodies of female athletes, politicians, televangelists, and music performers, Henson’s practice explores the transition of power from the crowd, to the performer, and back again. Her sculptures are vehicles to question gendered notions of strength particularly in the ways in which women, and their bodies, are portrayed in the media.
These concepts have taken form through a series of image-based sculptures, videos, and installations that blend advertisements, press photographs, and archival footage spanning the last seven decades. Often exploring female cultural icons by removing the figures from their original context and reducing them down to essential body parts, Henson deconstructs gendered codes imbedded within these icons and reveals how they act as a mirror for the society that they represent, past and present.
Despite examining cultural images that exist mainly on the printed page, the televised screen, or on the stage, Henson has continued to explore sculpture and materiality as a means of bringing her subjects into the bodily space of her viewers. The icons that she represents become further articulated through the inclusion of soft, often gender-coded materials such as hand-dyed fringe, sequins, draped satin, organza, pearl strands, and velvety flocking. These materials come into direct contrast with hard-edged, industrially produced, cutout prints and forms made from plywood. The vast range of materials employed in these new sculptures serves to further bridge the gap between the icon’s image and physical being, their myth and reality.
Julie Henson (b. 1983 in Charleston, SC) lives and works in Los Angeles. Henson received her MFA in from California College of the Arts in 2011. Henson has had solo exhibitions at Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, and the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina. She has also participated in group shows at numerous museums and spaces including the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art, Los Angeles, the Torrance Art Museum, Torrance; and the Visual Art Center at the University of Texas, Austin. Henson’s work has been reviewed in the pages of Elephant Magazine, Artforum, and Hyperallergic and she was a 2017 nominee for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Award.