Mary Henderson

Studio & Gallery

Philadelphia, PA

Please contact artist or gallery for purchases, commissions, etc.

Painting

Archived Works

Artist's Biography

Mary Henderson is a visual artist living and working in Philadelphia. She teaches painting and drawing part-time at St. Joseph’s University; she is also a co-director for the Philadelphia site of the nonprofit network of artist-run spaces, Tiger Strikes Asteroid. She received an AB with honors in fine arts from Amherst College in Amherst, MA, and an MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. Recent shows include her solo show, Public Views, at Lyons Wier Gallery (New York, NY), as well as group shows at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum (Mesa, AZ), Wilding Cran Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), the Woodmere Museum (Philadelphia, PA), and the Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota, FL). She was a finalist for the 2019 Bennett Prize and has been awarded a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, a PCA SOS grant, and residencies at the Jentel Foundation and the Hambidge Center (where she was the Nena Griffith Distinguished Fellow). Her work has been featured or reviewed in Harper's Magazine, L’Espresso (Italy), New American Paintings, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Art in America, among other publications. In 2017, Her recent curatorial projects include Sagas at Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Philadelphia, PA), Anachronism and Liberation at Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Philadelphia, PA) and LOCUM, at University City Arts League (Philadelphia, PA).

Artist's Statement

I make group portraits that explore the subject of collective identity. Although the events of the last year have recontextualized the work, my primary thematic concerns remain the same: group allegiance, power, and the public vs. private self. As congregate activity has turned more ominous, more urgent and more alluring, the imagery I draw from – pre-pandemic collections of people at exhibitions, political rallies, festivals, sporting events and protests – has become newly loaded with anxious nostalgia.

I construct my paintings from images that are based on, or that resonate with, my personal experience, drawing on a broad range of source materials: pictures found online, photos that I have taken, snapshots shared with me by friends, and direct observation from models. Shown in an unguarded moment of vulnerability and reflection, the subjects of the painting exist in a state of suspension between individual and collective identity.

My work examines the ways in which we are primed as humans to make quick decisions, and to assign in- and out-group status to people we encounter, based on very subtle signs. As a means of interrupting and interrogating that process, I present the subjects of my portraits out of context, with minimal visual cues regarding location. I am interested in the ways people communicate shared identity in the absence of clear markers, and in competing theories of the crowd (as unified organism versus an aggregate of individuals). How do individual gestures, amplified through proximity and repetition, present as a collective, physical force, and what causes us to interpret these shared movements as either threatening or benign?

I intend my work to be neither critical nor celebratory. The paintings that are mostly about joyful solidarity are often tinged with unease (a feeling that has certainly been amplified by recent events). At the same time, I want my paintings to feel humane, even when I am depicting people whose behaviors I find alienating or confounding. It is important to me that, even in a moment when group activity feels distant and dangerous, the work is still able to consider the radical possibilities of pleasure and collective effervescence — to temper discomfort with hope.

Selected Exhibitions

Solo and Two-person
2017
Public Views, Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY

2014
Sunday Paintings, Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY

2011
Bathers, Lyons Wier Gallery, New York, NY

2008
Forces, Lyons Wier/Ortt, New York, NY

2006
Right Clique, Lyons Wier /Ortt, New York, NY

Recollection: Mary Henderson and Susan Slattery, InLiquid at the Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

2004
Thrills, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL

Amusements, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

2003
Album, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL

Group
2020
Rising Voices, Bennett Prize Exhibition
Traveling Exhibition:
Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI; Reading Public Museum, Reading, PA; University of Tampa, Scarfone/Hartley Gallery, Tampa, FL; Studio Incamminati, Philadelphia, PA: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh, PA

I’ve Come to Look for America, Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dunedin, FL

2019
Truth Lies Beyond, Pop-up at Foley Gallery, New York, NY

IRL: Investigating Reality, Untitled Space New York, NY

Your Plus One, Mount Airy Contemporary, Philadelphia, PA

Seeing Red, Thinkspace, Los Angeles, CA

Sagas, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA

All of Us, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia

2018
Celebration of Summer, Arcadia Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA

Bodies of a Different Mass, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Los Angeles, CA

We the People, Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Mesa, AZ

2017 - 2018
Really?, Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Catalog

2017
Tone of Intention, InLiquid at Lacey and Phillips Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2016
12 by 12 in 12, Arcadia Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA

Observation/Reference/Gesture, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL

A Body Has No Center (On Touching), Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA

Seeing Is Believing, Mount Airy Contemporary, Philadelphia, PA

Woodmere Annual, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA

2015
Works on Paper, Pagus Gallery, Norristown, PA

Shape Play, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA

RESPOND, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY

2014
B¡ngo!, Platform Gallery, Baltimore, MD

2012-2013
We Could Be Heroes: The Mythology of Monsters and Heroes in Contemporary Art, The Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

2009
Mirror Mirror: Contemporary Portraits and the Fugitive Self, The Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT,

Consequential, Addams Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

2008
As Others See Us, Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro, VT

2005
Reality Show, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY

Operation RAW, Ice Box Project Space, Philadelphia, PA

2004
Young Painters Competition 2004, Miami University, Oxford, OH

2003
Compendium, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL

really, gescheidle, Chicago, IL

Momenta Art Benefit 2003, Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY and White Columns, New York, NY

2002 - 2006
White Columns Artist Registry

Drawing Center Viewing Room

2002
Less Than One, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY

12”x12”, Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL

Night of 1000 Drawings, Artists Space, New York, NY

2001
Talking Heads, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY

The Future is Now, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Wilmington, DE

New Talent, Gross-McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

Selected Curatorial Projects

2018
Sagas, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA
Co-curator with Mark Brosseau
Exhibition essay by Carolyn Chernoff

2017
Anachronism and Liberation, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA
Co-curator with Jane Irish
Exhibition essay by Crispin Sartwell

Locum, University City Arts League, Philadelphia, PA
Co-curator with Caroline Santa

Artist's Bibliography

2018
Williams, Austin R., "Playing to the Crowd," Artists Magazine, September Issue

2017
Black, Ezra Jean, "Imitation of Life: Really? (Group Show Curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody)," Artillery, December 23, 2017

Dingli, Ann, "Privacy has been obliterated, we just haven’t come to terms with it," Interview, I think I like it, September 15, 2017

Neely, Hallie, "Art Out: Mary Henderson: Public Views," Museé Magazine, September 15, 2017

2015
Fresh Paint Magazine, Issue 6, February

2014
Gauss, Daniel “Nothing fails like success! Mary Henderson 'Sunday Paintings” Lyons Wier Gallery,” Examiner.com, March 11, 2014

Laluyan, Oscar “Picture This: Everyday is Sunday at Lyons Wier,” Arte Fuse , March 3, 2014

“Mary Henderson: istantanee da un weekend,” L'Espresso, February 24, 2014

2011
Harper’s Magazine, July Issue
Image reproduction

“La spiaggia ipperrealista di Mary Henderson,” L'Espresso, Italy, June 3, 2011

Galperina, Maria, “Hyper-Real Oil Paintings of Found Vacation Photos,” Animal New York, May 11, 2011

2008
Palmer, Brian, “Field Notes: Mary Henderson's Forces,” Design Arts Daily, November 3, 2008

2007
Amy, Michaël, "Mary Henderson at Lyons Wier • Ortt," Art in America, January Issue

2006
Harper’s Magazine, December Issue
Image reproduction

2001
"New American Paintings: MFA 2001", Open Studios Press, Boston, MA

Awards and Honors

2019
Nena Griffith Distinguished Fellowship, Hambidge Center, Raburn Gap, GA

2018
The Bennett Prize, Finalist

2005
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts SOS Grant, Visual Arts – Painting

2004
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts SOS Grant, Visual Arts – Painting

2003
Jentel Artist Residency, Banner, WY

2000
Neil Welliver Award, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

1999 - 2001
Chairman’s Scholarship, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Professional Experience

2019 - Present
Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA
Co-director, member since 2016

Lesley University, Boston, MA
MFA Artist Mentor

2010 - Present
St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA
Adjunct Professor, Fine Arts

2015 - 2019
University City Arts League, Philadelphia, PA
Gallery Committee

2009
School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Lecturer

2001 - 2006
St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA
Adjunct Professor, Fine Arts

Publications

2011
Harper’s Magazine, July, 2011 (image reproduction)

2006
Harper’s Magazine, December, 2006 (image reproduction)

2004
Cover image, XConnect: Writers of the Information Age, Vol. 6, Philadelphia: Cross Connect, Inc., 2004

2001
New American Paintings: MFA 2001, Open Studios Press, Boston, MA

Selected Collections

Burger Collection, Switzerland
Nicholls Collection, CT
Rickert Collection, CA
Sender Collection, NY
West Collection, PA

Education

2001
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
MFA, Painting

1997
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Post-Baccalaureate, Studio Art

1995
Amherst College, Amherst, MA
AB cum laude, Fine Arts

1994
Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy