In 2014, spurred into action by the senseless murders of Black men at the hands of police, photographer Jon Henry started Stranger Fruit. Through haunting portraits, Henry asks mothers to act out what it must feel like to lose their sons. Cradled in their arms like the Pietà, these boys and men lay lifeless as their mothers are left to pick up the pieces. And though the women in Henry’s photographs haven’t actually lost their sons, their pain and fear is still palpable.
Eight years later, Henry’s poignant project has been transformed into a book. Now available for pre-sale, Stranger Fruit is a collection of images that ruminates on the loss of Black men in society and the hole that leaves within a mother’s heart. “The mothers are often forgotten in this,” Henry told My Modern Met in 2018 when discussing the larger social issue, “and they should never have to endure this pain.”
Limited to just 500 copies, the book is a stunning collection of heartwrenching visuals. To accompany the images of mother and child, Henry also photographed these mothers alone. Lost in their thoughts, they are left to mourn and grapple with the reality of life without their children.
For Henry, who was named one of the emerging leaders shaping the future on the 2021 TIME100 NEXT list, the book is the culmination of his nearly decade-long project. The 59 images in the book are accompanied by selected text from the mothers. “The book is the final format for the work and the only way to truly realize/feel the power of not only the images but also of the words of the mothers in the series,” Henry shares.
Stranger Fruit is available for pre-sale through Kris Graves Projects. There are also a select number of archival prints that can also be ordered along with the book.