NEW YORK, NY.- Lyons Wier Gallery
presents Sunday Paintings by Mary Henderson.
As in Ms. Hendersons previous work, Sunday Paintings sources material from social media and photo-sharing websites to examine class-specific cultural phenomena. What separates Sunday Paintings from her previous bodies of work is how the artist has transported herself from passive voyeur to activate participant in the urban settings shes examining. Focusing on the leisure activities of her peers and fellow gentrifiers, her compositions highlight the well educated, middle-class, neophyte city dweller and how their posturing and social media postings attempt to communicate a seemingly idyllic life brimming with happiness and privilege. Gleaned from images of contemporary urban utopias like city parks, brunch spots, dog runs and farmers markets, Ms. Hendersons observations epitomize the essence of gentrification.
What intrigues Ms. Henderson about the subjects lives she is exploring is her own role within this community. As a participant and bystander, the artist directs our attention to her observations of how they (and we) have an idealized image of our self/selves, and through either conscious or unconscious means, exercise a continuous curatorial element in their (and our) activities. Even the simplest of routines such as eating, housework, gardening, jogging, etc. are elevated to a news worthy status and are composed, captured and communicated globally through their (and our) self-important lens.
However, Sunday Paintings is more than mere displays of self-satisfaction. The work depicts the pleasures of these environments, but also seeks out the unguarded moments of reflection, preoccupation or disengagement. There is an obvious contradictory quality in these leisurely compositions, a palpable sense of detachment with undercurrents of self-doubt, anonymity and status anxiety. Through Ms. Hendersons lengthy and contemplative painting process, the essence of the original source material is slowed and shifted. Its content is transformed from a fleeting record of individual achievement, into something more complicated and broadly resonant while effortlessly balancing notions of reality and fantasy. By refocusing reality, Sunday Paintings offers a critical yet sublime glimpse into the every-day lives we lead all the while holding up a mirror showing us what we want to see.
Mary Henderson received her BA in Fine Arts from Amherst College in Amherst, MA (1995), and her MFA in Painting from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA (2001). Her work was included in Mirror Mirror: Contemporary Portraits and the Fugitive Self, at The Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, As Others See Us at the Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro, VT, The Future is Now, at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Wilmington, DE and has participated in numerous exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Miami and other cities. Mary Henderson lives and works in Philadelphia, PA and has been represented by Lyons Wier Gallery since 2006.