http://paulahendersonart.com/home.html
http://lindawarrenprojects.com/artists/paula-henderson/
http://www.drawingcenter.org/viewingprogram/portfolio.cfm

Bio

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Liberal Arts (2006); Faculty Advisor CAPX (2017); MFA, 2004, University of Chicago; BFA, 1972, University of Massachusetts. Solo Exhibitions: Linda Warren, Chicago; 621 Gallery, Tallahassee Fl; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Union League Club, Chicago; Illinois Wesleyan University. Publications: New American Paintings. Bibliography: Art LTD; New City; Huffington Post; Chicago Reader; Time Out Chicago. Collections: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Sam Houston Univ, Texas; Deloitte Touche; Kirkland & Ellis. Awards: 2016, Springfield Museum, MO; 2015, Public Art Commission, Chicago Transit Authority; 2011, Illinois Arts Council; 2014, 1997, National Endowment for the Arts/ Fellowship.


Experience at SAIC

The experience of being in a collegial atmosphere with a diversity of approaches, strategies, and ideas is not to be underrated.


Personal Statement

I work by project-series of paintings and drawings, which variously reflect my interest in social dynamics and art history.

With the recent series Groundwork, I return to my ongoing interest in abstraction within a post-modern framework. In contrast to the self-contained formalism of modernism, I focus on prosaic, schematic patterns of formal appeal that operate simultaneously as social signifiers.

Here, specifically, I utilize the distinct patterning from the soles of shoes to think about the very particularity and variety of design that goes into the literal marking (and marketing) of our movement on the ground. I record these patterns as I find them, oftentimes a chaotic mix of partial prints and in other sites ordered, discernable designs. This manufactured residue that marks us routinely across space in time, though on the one hand quite ordinary, fascinates me as vestigial configurations of our collective history.

Additionally, I am focused on how these tread patterns act as social signifiers. They are variously studied in forensic science to identify/profile a wearer as suspect. They often serve as distinguishing social and cultural markers by the preponderance of brand patterns marking style trends/ movement in particular neighborhoods in Chicago where I live and work. This brand(ing) of place follows our movement and conditionally holds our histories in sand, rain, snow, concrete, and mud. I am interested in how these surface iconographies—prosaic, routine, overlooked—act as hieroglyphic narratives of our collectivity and markers, as well, of our spatial disparities.

Not insignificantly they resonate with the flow of human activity as witnessed in social migrations/diasporas.

And finally, the range/progression of the Groundwork series from decipherable, ordered, schematic designs to layered "remixes" of partials dispersed within shadows, puts me in mind of human planning—initiated in the abstract by a few with a discrete objective—that once deployed sets in motion unforeseen outcomes for the many.


The other branch of my recent work puzzles the social impact of representations of women's bodies in the commercial media. These paintings reflect the shaping of personal narratives/ identities being forged out of, and based on, the push/ pull of desire/ allure. The poses, postures, surface treatments, and selectively enhanced/diminished proportions are archetypes, ubiquitous in the media, and out of reach in their flawless manufacture.

My work suggests that current views of beauty—so thoroughly conflated with notions of desire, power, lifestyle, and celebrity—distract the construction of our personal narratives. Might we, to various degrees, embrace our own objectification?

The Appearances paintings simulate the worldly beauty/ power of historic Eastern deity icons such as Buddhist images of Bodhisattvas—charged with guiding souls to spiritual perfection—and link it to the manufacture of media goddesses. My tracings and manipulated fusions of these perfected bodies and my resultant distortions are intended to resonate with the troubling consequences of identities built on artifice.

Temple Construction is an installation that includes groups of paintings, Turning to Stone and Freeze in which these icons are arranged totemically, as if deities in a temple frieze. The dimensions of the canvases, Turning to Stone, resonates with the extreme body type required for models, here splayed whimsically "turning to (jade) stone" in contemplation of the perfect shoe in a dystopian Cinderella reference.

In the Traffic series, I use the neutrality of sign figuration to fashion a codex, to map less visible dynamics of the social landscape—here the intersection of beauty (the industry) and desire, the media, and human trafficking.


Current Interests

Thinking about the impact of the media on the social landscape.

 

Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.