The Boland Hall Gallery provides a space that helps to educate and serve the SJU and surrounding communities. Student work is rotated on a monthly basis and March features ceramic work from Senior Art Major, Sue Henry.
Sue Henry’s Chromatic Entropy
by Molly Ledbetter, Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant
In this powerful, vibrant body of work, artist Sue Henry explores such themes as nature, the organic, deterioration, and femininity. The title of her show, “Chromatic Entropy,” suggests a sense of beautiful degradation, a concept much of her work embodies. In many ways, her collection enshrines and celebrates the natural processes of aging and wear in life, capturing simultaneously the stunning intricacies that accompany such change. Her show exhibits decay and aging in the natural world, and from this emerges realized notions of maturity, growth, rootedness, and strength.
Art has always been an important part of Henry’s life, though it took a back seat when she started a family and pursued a career in another field. When her children got a little older, she reconnected with clay through local art classes and studios. Years later, however, she developed a painful case of arthritis and had to take a break. It wasn’t until her second year at Saint Joe’s that she rekindled the flame and found herself back at the wheel, where she took her work in an entirely different direction from her functional ware—dishes, bowls, mugs, plates—of the past. In an interview, she expressed some personal parallels to her work:
…there is a connection for me to this feeling of entropy. As a woman, the older I get, the bolder I get. Around age 50, I realized that I cared less about what others thought, but in a good way. I just turned 60 and know I have a voice, have opinions that I share sparingly, and am so much more embracing of differences in people.
In a word, she speaks to the positivity and wisdom that comes with maturing—a message most manifest in her work.
With the titles complementing each piece, Henry “wanted to give the viewer something to consider,” as you browse and lean in to the work to discover discrete elements and texture. In the sea of this nature-inspired collection hide little gems and secrets and morsels of detail folded into the shadows. Engulfed in blankets of undulating petals and shells emerge succulent, embossed, shiny little pods and pearls and seeds. These components, hiding in crevices and nestled into small nooks in the sculpture almost breathe life into each piece. The attention to minutiae and liberties with color help the work come to life in a very organic, elegant, and dynamic way.