CHARLESTON, SC.- The Gibbes Museum of Art
has received a work of art from Charleston native J. Henry Fair, whose photographs were exhibited at the museum in a solo exhibition in 2011. The photograph, titled Bacon, Warsaw , N.C., is now a part of the museums permanent collection and is currently on view in The Charleston Story exhibition.
We are so pleased to have one of Fairs large-scale aerial photographs in our collection. The 2011 exhibition J. Henry Fair: Industrial Scars evoked much conversation about his abstract images that are both aesthetically pleasing and unsettling in their depictions of the changing southern landscape, noted Gibbes Executive Director Angela Mack.
J. Henry Fair moved from Charleston to New York City in 1980 to pursue a career in photography. For decades he enjoyed success making portraits of many of the worlds notable singers, musicians, and performershis clientele has ranged from Yo-Yo Ma to Emmylou Harris. However, his passion for the environment became a driving force in his career and in 2000 he launched the Industrial Scars project. Drawn to sites where the land has been drastically changed by the mining or manufacturing of coal, petroleum, fertilizer, or paper pulp, Fair documents the effects of industrial processes on our landscapes.
A self-described environmental activist, Fair originally set out to record these sites to inspire both environmental reforms and changes to consumer behavior; however, while flying above acres of toxic wastes spilling into waterways and covering the landscape, he discovered an unexpected beauty in his subject. He began to see intriguing shapes, patterns, and mesmerizing colors in the wastelands. Fairs photographs became more abstract, and surprisingly pleasing to the eye. It is this unsettling sense of beauty found in tracts of bauxite waste, coal ash, and phosphate discharge that has drawn worldwide attention to his work and to his mission.
In 2011, the Gibbes Museum of Art hosted an exhibition of Fairs photographs highlighting images that he has taken of industrial sites in the southeastern United States over the last five years. As a result, the artist generously donated one of his images to the museum. Bacon depicts a hog fecal waste lagoon in Warsaw , North Carolina , that formed as a result of waste run-off from industrial hog farming.