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In Striking Photos, Black Mothers Contemplate the Reality Facing Their Sons

In Stranger Fruit, artist Jon Henry asks Black mothers to pose with their sons in a manner that evokes the Madonna and child.

Jon Henry, “Untitled 39, Santa Monica, CA” (all images courtesy the artist)

The Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture has awarded artist Jon Henry its top prize. The award is bestowed annually by the Maine Media Workshops + College to a photographer whose work demonstrates what the organization describes as a “compelling new vision in photographic portraiture.”

Jon Henry is a visual artist based in Brooklyn. His Stranger Fruit series, named after the well-known song originally by Billie Holiday, was created in response to the murders of Black men across the US by police.

In Stranger Fruit, Henry photographs American mothers with their sons in a pietà-like arrangement, reenacting the pain for loss that is too common for Black families in the United States.

“The mothers in the photographs have not lost their sons, but understand the reality that this could happen to their family,” Henry said in a press release. “The mother is also photographed in isolation, reflecting on the absence. When the trials are over, the protesters have gone home and the news cameras gone, it is the mother left. Left to mourn, to survive.”

Henry’s Stranger Fruit series will be on display at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts until October 23.

“Untitled 19, Magnificent Mile, IL”
“Untitled 45, Oakland, CA”
“Untitled 48, Inglewood, CA”
“Untitled 24, Birmingham, AL”
“Untitled 42, Central LA, CA”
“Untitled 35, North Minneapolis, MN”
“Untitled 33, Jersey City, NJ”
“Untitled 44, Crenshaw Blvd, CA”
“Untitled 55, Little Rock, AR”
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