Robert Henderson

gender, race, and the hyper-sexualization IN between

VISUALIZING WORK THROUGH MATERIAL 

gender, race, and the hyper-sexualization IN between: material discussion

Developing emotion into tangible form parallels an idea that intangible memories have the capacity to permanently affect the psyche, thus, giving physicality to the emotion. With focus centered on my experiences and their associated trauma, emotional memory is heavily tied to my connection with materials. Materials are physical gateways into memory; they initiate mental recollections through touch, smell, sound, sight, and taste.  

I have a strong belief that materials choose the maker, and the maker has a responsibility to elevate said material into physical manifestations of its energies. From types of fiber to species of wood, materials are impactful catalyzers for remembrance. For instance, the great tulip poplar, tallest of the eastern hardwoods, has a tremendous pull on me. The poplar’s distinct smell of burnt banana peels when cutting through the wood evokes feelings of unyielding stubbornness. Its smooth inner bark, peeled from the core and dripping with water, reminds me that the stubbornness is covered by malleable skin. The poplar connects its physicality to my energy, sculpting emotional discharge through physical manipulation. And through this poplar-induced sensory overload, thoughts erupt, combing through every striation of wood, fibril of fiber, crackle of paper, and sharpness of metal.