Julie Henson creates drawings that explore the idea of religious extremism in the United States, with a focus in the Southeast. The Charleston, South Carolina native examines historically significant religious rituals and the ways in which the modern South maintains these practices. The drawings often depict subjects united in spiritual ecstasy, while undergoing the transcendent religious acts of holding snakes, placing one’s hands in fire, speaking in tongues and the laying of hands for miraculous healing. The artist captures her subjects and suspends their emotional state by rendering them on translucent mylar, many of which are exhibited as a light-box, emitting a glowing aura. As a Southerner, the artist tracks both religious and family traditions that merge to construct a long history which is full of dark secrets and strong bonds. While the source material and research for each work is varied, every drawing is based on a first-hand experience that the artist encountered sometime in her childhood. Henson has stated that this body of work “evaluates [her] personal relationship to Southern piety and family heritage, along with the utilization of religious rituals as a tool of personal devotion and social control.”
Henson is a graduate of the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston, and is currently a member of the Studio Program at Redux Contemporary Art Center. The artist has exhibited throughout the Southeast, and her most recent solo exhibition Alone was reviewed by the Charleston City Paper. In addition, she frequently contributes to DailyServing.com as both a copy editor and writer, and has collaborated on DailyServing’s recent catalog projects, The Sun Machine is Coming Down and Broken, Beaten and Buried.