Sean D. Henry-Smith

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Sean D. Henry-Smith


An ongoing exploration of identity and phenomenology, my work deals with antinomy – a necessary contradiction of narratives – and how that, through the poetic nature of light, shadow, and color, creates a state of lingering. This equivocal space is one of great tension and great spirit; it is here I explore vulnerability, not as weakness, but as oneness and intimacy between subject, photographer, viewer, and place. Removing the veil of artifice, I make photographs with the sovereignty of quiet, using photographs as silent protests and hummed hymns from the mouth of reality.

In my most recent and ongoing body of work, Virtues of the Soil, I explore this very notion and absence as presence. Through portraiture, I address issues of erasure, and propose the romantic landscape as a political space. Drawn to the painters of the Hudson River School, I investigate the role of the figure in landscape and how this ambiguous space is escape and imprisonment, serenity and jeopardy.

My work is undeniably influenced by the history of the African diaspora and history of photography, particularly the study of race, representation, the familial, and gender performance. Photography’s history is too often subject to the exclusion and objectification of marginalized peoples. Again, through antinomy, I investigate where I fit into photography’s history, reasserting my narrative.