James Henkel: Stacks
"I can’t tell you that no books were harmed in the making of this project, but I can tell you that no good books were harmed."
James Henkel: Stacks
Photographer James Henkel, originally from Miami, Florida, became interested in painting and drawing at the age of twelve. Ideas about drawing remain a motivating factor in much of his work. In college, Henkel took his first photography class, purchased his first camera, and realized the immense possibilities within the medium of photography.
Throughout his childhood and well after high school, Henkel had some difficulty with reading. Creating artwork with books was a way for him to personalize and transform them into a visual experience. Henkel has worked with books since relocating to Minnesota in 1976. Around 2004, Henkel developed the Stacks series of photographs, which originally included two bodies of work: stacked books and stacks of glass vessels with flowers. Earlier artwork using books was made by placing objects on them, which changed the context of the meaning. However, to rid himself of their perceived preciousness and the ingrained cultural respect for them, Henkel first submerged books in water and, eventually, sliced them with a band saw. The photographs in Stacks sometimes address the form and authority associated with books, while others explore purely imaginative ideas for "new books."
James Henkel received a MFA from Florida State University. His work has been exhibited internationally in various galleries and museums, including Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); the Pace MacGill Gallery, New York; and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. His work is also in many collections including SFMOMA; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Walker Art Center; and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board.
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