Beyond the Bio: Clifton Henri
Beyond the Bio is a series that takes you past the canvas and into the minds of the artists and curators who build the contemporary arts community.
Photographer Clifton Henri will be featured at Art City Austin: Art Alliance Austin’s 3-day art fair from March 31st – April 2nd at the Palmer Events Center.
Artist: Clifton Henri from Chicago, IL
Primary medium: Photography
Why do you make art?
I’ve always been a visual communicator. As a kid I learned more by example and observing than by textbook
and lecture. It’s always been easier for me that way and since I receive and understand messages delivered visually, I just naturally decided to “speak” in the same language.
I’m inspired by the truth, honesty and the reflection of ourselves in art. I usually relate to a piece of work when I can find myself within it. Most of my work, no matter the model or subject matter, is actually a self-portrait. It reflects my thoughts, my beliefs, my experiences, my feelings. At the end of the day I’m sharing a piece of me and in a world of shared experiences, my hope is that you can appreciate and connect with the work by finding yourself in it as well.
Honestly, because I was terrible at drawing. It was hard for me to get my ideas illustrated on paper the way I wanted. Using real people, light and composition to tell my stories ended up being a more efficient medium for me. There was less of a learning curve.
How long have you been an artist and how has your practice changed over time?
I’ve been an artist since grade school but didn’t take it seriously until college. I got involved in graphic design and went to graduate school for that in Savannah, GA, but eventually got called back to photography. My practice has changed over the years by being able to adapt to different work flows and processes to produce the work. I’m extremely conceptual, but I’ve had to be “Johnny-on-the-spot” at times and create content that’s just as powerful – learning how to be in the moment and actually create the moment if you have to.
What are you working on right now?
I am working heavily on taking the singular photographs that I’ve made and expanding them into a series. Repetition and variation are great tools to enhance messages. I feel that my work can have even more impact if some of these ideas that i’ve had are built upon, so the focus in the next year is to spend more time with my themes and explore them and figure out how to amplify those stories, emotions, and messages.
Why make the journey to Austin?
Austin is the sweet spot of Texas for me. I’m consistently doing better year to year in Austin and find that my thoughts and perspectives are appreciated here. Even if it differs, my work is respected. Austin is an all-walks-of-life kind of place and is a breeding ground for creativity and shared thoughts. I like to come in town and be a part of that, even if it’s just for a moment. It’s good for the soul.
Beyond the Bio is curated by Art Alliance Austin, with the assistance of Scott Nyerges.