Powerful Portraits Visualize the Fear and Pain Black Mothers Face in the U.S.

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Powerful Portraits Visualize the Fear and Pain Black Mothers Face in the U.S.

“Untitled 48, Inglewood, CA”

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.

Stranger Fruit is photographer Jon Henry’s response to the senseless killing of Black men at the hands of police.

“Untitled 63, Salt Lake City, UT”

For eight years, he photographed mothers across the country acting out the deaths of their sons.

“Untitled 35, North Minneapolis, MN”

“Untitled 61, Omaha, NE”

“Untitled 53, North Little Rock, AR”

And photographed them alone as they were left to mourn their loss.

“Untitled 22, Berwyn, IL”

“Untitled 57, Houston, TX”

“Untitled 4, Harlem, NY”

Now the project has been transformed into a book—available for pre-sale—that includes the photos, as well as texts from the mothers.

“Untitled 44, Crenshaw Blvd, CA”

“Untitled 7, Mt. Vernon, NY”

Jon Henry: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Jon Henry.

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Illustrator Uses Art to Give a Voice to the Black Lives Matter Movement

Artist Creates Portraits of Black People Killed by Police, a Minute of Color for Every Year of Life

READ: Powerful Portraits Visualize the Fear and Pain Black Mothers Face in the U.S.

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