J Henry Fair
“The vivid color photographs of J Henry Fair lead an uneasy double life as potent records of environmental pollution and as ersatz evocations of abstract painting…information and form work together, to devastating effect.” -Roberta Smith, The New York Times
Photographer J Henry Fair is best known for his Industrial Scars series, in which he researches our world’s most egregious environmental disasters and creates images that are simultaneously stunning and horrifying, and more closely resemble abstract paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Jackson Pollock than what the collective views as reality. Mr. Fair’s work has been featured in segments on The TODAY Show, CNN, NPR’s Marketplace, and WDR German TV, as well as in most major publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, and GQ. Additionally, Mr. Fair’s work travels around the world in fine art exhibitions at major museums, galleries, and educational institutions.
Mr. Fair has served as Artist-in-Residence at some of the nation’s top educational institutions for art and environmental studies, including Dartmouth College, Colorado College, Vanderbilt University, and most recently Swarthmore College this past February. Additionally, Mr. Fair maintains an active lecture schedule, in which he presents photographic symposia to audiences in the US and abroad. Recent engagements have included Bloomberg, The Collegiate School, and Die Spedition. After a hugely successful presentation at the TED Talks conference, High Energy, in Berlin in November 2011, Mr. Fair has just completed his second TED Talk, this time at Wake Forest University’s conference, Defining the Future, held in February, 2013. Mr. Fair is also a regular blogger on art and the environment for the Huffington Post and NRDC’s OnEarth Magazine, giving readers a first-hand look inside the important issues he studies and photographs.
Mr. Fair’s book, The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis was released in February, 2011, published by powerHouse Books in cooperation with Random House. In January, 2012, Mr. Fair’s new multi-media piece, Das Lied von der Erde (Heute), was premiered in Germany by the Weimar Staatskapelle. This stunning performance piece re-imagines Gustav Mahler’s classic orchestral work, pairing it with an animated series of Fair’s electrifying environmental photographs. Also in 2012, Mr. Fair was added to the artist stables at both Flo Peters Gallery in Hamburg, Germany and Galerie Judith Andreae in Bonn, Germany, presenting solo exhibits at both institutions.
Mr. Fair’s work can currently be seen in exhibits at d.a.i. Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany, and Museo De Arte Acarigua-Araure in Portugesa, Venezuela. Upcoming engagements include a new exhibit at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, as well as Mr. Fair’s second exhibit at Gerald Peters Gallery in New York, NY.
Our consumption-based economy is wreaking havoc on the systems that sustain our life on Earth. I seek out the manifestations of this and create pictures. My goal is to produce beautiful images that stimulate an aesthetic response, and thus curiosity in the viewer about the causes, and hopefully her personal involvement. If the pictures are not beautiful, the viewer will not stop to consider them, or cherish them.
The impacted landscapes that I want to see are usually hidden, so hiring a plane and flying over these sites is the only way to see things; the aerial perspective is inherently intriguing to land-based animals.
Ultimately, I want behavioral change. Every purchase decision should be made with the next generation in mind. Government will not protect or respond to us, but corporations will respond to our direction. If we buy toilet paper made from post-consumer material, forests are saved (and all of the animals at home there, not to mention all of the carbon it sequesters). It’s that simple.
In spite of the political nature of my work, I consider myself first and foremost an artist, someone who works in a given medium to convey a certain message, and hopefully entertains in the process.