A gallery talk by Richmond-based photographer Cynthia Henebry will kick off her new exhibition at Sweet Briar College at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, in Babcock Gallery. “Cynthia Henebry: Photographs” will be on display until March 25 and is free and open to the public.
The artist, educator and activist will show a selection of large-format color photographs from her series “The Marriage Oaks,” as well as possibly a video installation, says galleries director Karol Lawson.
“I wanted to have a strong photographer to share with students and professors as I am trying to balance the works shown in Babcock across various media,” Lawson said.
In an interview with The Creative Habit on Richmond’s WRIR-FM, Henebry talked about what informs her photography, beginning with the family photos that surrounded her when she was a child.
“I think people look at photographs for the truth, to find out who they are,” she said. “That’s a fool’s errand, by the way. And yet, there is a really interesting relationship to the truth that photography has.”
Studying photos of herself and her family each day, and trying to figure out who she was “in relationship to those people,” Henebry noticed something.
“My perception of different pictures over time changed as I changed.”
To Henebry, photography is all about the connection between her and the person she is photographing. The first picture she ever took of Mavis, a little girl seen throughout several images in “The Marriage Oaks,” was “Mavis in the Backseat,” one of her most famous photographs.
“All of the moments in my life leading up to that picture, and all of the moments in her life leading up to that picture inform that picture,” she explained in the interview.
Lawson first learned of Henebry through The Do Good Fund, a public charity based in Columbus, Ga., where Lawson served as chief curator at the Columbus Museum from 1991 to 1999. Founded by Sweet Briar College graduate Jewett Winn Rothschild ’83 and her husband, Alan, The Do Good Fund focuses on “building a museum-quality collection of contemporary Southern photography, including works by emerging photographers,” according to its website.
Henebry counts among her latest successes the cover of The Georgia Review, which, in its winter 2016 issue, featured “Mavis in the Backseat,” along with coverage of The Do Good Fund’s collection.
Her work also has appeared in The New York Times, Real Simple Magazine, Photo District News, The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, NEXT Magazine, Nido Magazine, the NPR Picture Show and more.
Henebry has recent and upcoming exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Center for Photography, the Camera Club of New York and Page Bond Gallery. Corporate, private and public collections of her work include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Capitol One. She is represented by Page Bond Gallery and teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, where she earned her M.F.A. in photography/film.
Henebry’s photographs, notes Lawson, will complement the theater department’s spring production of “August, Osage County,” which premieres Feb. 25. Babcock Gallery is adjacent to the auditorium and the audience is always welcome to enjoy the artwork on display before and after the production and during intermission. Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.