Mary Henderson


Mary Henderson is a visual artist living and working in Philadelphia. She teaches painting and drawing part-time at St. Joseph’s University; she is also a co-director for the Philadelphia site of the nonprofit network of artist-run spaces, Tiger Strikes Asteroid. She received an AB with honors in fine arts from Amherst College in Amherst, MA, and an MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. Recent shows include her solo show, Public Views, at Lyons Wier Gallery (New York, NY), as well as group shows at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum (Mesa, AZ), Wilding Cran Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), the Woodmere Museum (Philadelphia, PA), and the Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota, FL). She was a finalist for the 2019 Bennett Prize and has been awarded a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, a PCA SOS grant, and residencies at the Jentel Foundation and the Hambidge Center (where she was the Nena Griffith Distinguished Fellow). Her work has been featured or reviewed in Harper's Magazine, L’Espresso (Italy), New American Paintings, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Art in America, among other publications. In 2017, Her recent curatorial projects include Sagas at Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Philadelphia, PA), Anachronism and Liberation at Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Philadelphia, PA) and LOCUM, at University City Arts League (Philadelphia, PA).


"I make group portraits that explore the subject of collective identity. Although the events of the last year have recontextualized the work, my primary thematic concerns remain the same: group allegiance, power, and the public vs. private self...

Shown in an unguarded moment of vulnerability and reflection, the subjects of the painting exist in a state of suspension between individual and collective identity.

My work examines the ways in which we are primed as humans to make quick decisions, and to assign in- and out-group status to people we encounter, based on very subtle signs. As a means of interrupting and interrogating that process, I present the subjects of my portraits out of context, with minimal visual cues regarding location. I am interested in the ways people communicate shared identity in the absence of clear markers, and in competing theories of the crowd (as unified organism versus an aggregate of individuals)." --Mary Henderson