A Q & A with local artist Emily Hendricksen

Freshmen Charity Davis (left) and Shante Parker (right) look at one of Emily Hendricksen’s collages in the gallery Tuesday April 18, 2017 in DSU . Hendricksen, along with artist Jack LeSieur, spoke about the work they have displayed in DSU during the Artists Talk session.

Chris DiMeo

Emily Hendricksen is a Kentucky-born artist and University of Kentucky graduate. She has previously worked at the Kentucky Museum on campus and now remains involved in her community art studio in town.

On Tuesday, she gave a talk in Downing Student Union about her newest exhibit, which is set up on campus in the Intercultural Student Engagement Center. The exhibit, entitled “The Feminine Figure,” explores perceptions of the female body and its role, as well as her own reflections on the subject.

After her talk, she discussed her work and inspirations.

What was your exhibit about? What was the message you were trying to communicate?

The main theme from this exhibit was the female image and my thoughts and feelings about what that image is. There are a few select works from two different series I’m creating still. One series is my Tarot Card Series, in which I highlighted the idea of the feminine figure taking on roles/meanings of cards that would normally be represented with a male figure. The idea is that women are very capable and embody those traits and characteristics that men are often portrayed as having. The other series I have in the exhibit that I touched on during my talk was from The Unknown Series. The images I have are responses to things that I have experienced in the most recent few months. They deal with my inner feelings and thoughts about the female body and how my past experiences have affected me. These works, which I consider to be my most powerful and most important right now, are how I’ve dealt with some deeply personal issues. Art has been my outlet and the way I heal myself.

Why are you passionate about this topic?

I’m passionate about art, I believe, because it’s something that I’ve always been drawn to. I’ve made art ever since I was a small child, like most children of course. But I found myself through art. It’s how I began to identify myself, how to express myself when I couldn’t articulate what I wished to. As I said before, it has also been a source for healing, a way to share with others my experiences in hopes that it will help them in some small way. Art is, for my journey in life, a way for me to grow and learn things about the works around me, which then allows for me to teach others so that they may grow too.

Would you say the messages about the female body in your work are more directed at men or women, or is it a universal message that all people can connect with?

In my work, I don’t really seek to aim the messages to any particular group or gender. They’re just my responses to things I’ve experienced or have feelings about, hopefully those can translate to others and connect [to] others, but no particular audience really.

What led you to become interested in creating works about the female image? Did you feel that this message needed to be spread because of negative experiences, or is it more a celebration of beauty you have observed?

I’m not sure if there was one specific thing or experience that led me to become interested in the female figure/body, more like over the course of my life, being a [woman] myself, I’ve dealt with body image issues and social/political issues. As for the messages I wished to convey, some did stem from not so great experiences, and some from my own gradual progression as an artist and as a human being. I think all the ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ experiences were and are necessary for humans to grow and learn, and sometimes it can be very difficult to deal with. That’s why I use my art to help myself grow and heal, and if others happen to be impacted by the art and in turn allows them to grow and heal, then I think that’s what matters the most.

Digital Reporter Chris DiMeo can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected]