A photographic tale by Nicolas Henry
Nicolas Henry (b.1978) is an award-winning French photographer who is known for creating participatory works that reveal the personal and collective stories of communities from around the world.
*All cultures are different, but humanity is a single community, sharing values, a past and future. All people are different, and this is a strength for all societies, for creativity and innovation. There are seven billion ways of ‘being human,’ but we stand together as members of the same family, all different, all equally seeking respect for rights and dignity.
UNESCO’s message above is a driving force behind Henry's signature visual language and approach to storytelling. Henry combines community engagement and personal expression with photography, theatre technique, cinematic lighting and handmade prop and set design. The result is a series of photographic tales that blur the line between fiction and reality, all attesting to the importance of appreciating cultural diversity in our quest for a just and equitable society.
A graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris, Henry trained in film at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. He pursued a career as a lighting and set designer in the music, contemporary dance and theater fields, before traveling the world for three years as film director for the project 6 Billion Others, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Henry then become artistic director for the exhibition presented at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2009.
Henry then produced The Playhouses of our Grandparents, a global project and publication (Editions ActesSud, 2011) presenting 400 unique portraits of seniors, all photographed in imaginary playhouses reminiscent of their childhood.
His most recent endeavor, Kitihawa's Chandelier, presents a historical cultural tale of communities in America and Africa with a message of tolerance, inclusion and equity. The series celebrates the strength and resilience of women and children in the face of adversity and underlines the importance of recognizing each other’s history.
For this project, Henry worked closely with communities and organizations in Chicago including Skyart in South Chicago, Bright Star Community Outreach in Bronzeville and the Lycée Français de Chicago in Lincoln Square, as well as in Detroit with The Downtown Boxing Gym and Popps Packing. The project also includes images from Africa, Brazil and France.
Kitihawa's Chandelier provided a creative platform where participating individuals could exchange thoughts, address the challenges facing their communities, and express their hopes and ideas for the future.
*The United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization
Exhibition at the
DuSable Museum of African American History
The first part of the project was presented by the DuSable Museum of African American History from May 2017 to April 2018. Major support was provided by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, connecting the state with art through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Significant support was provided by Duane Morris, Runner Collective, Cream Wine Company, Skoog Productions and Vikki. Generous support was provided by Susan Starrett and Lawrence Jones.
The project Kitihawa’s Chandelier was produced by White Color Productions with Nicolas Henry, in collaboration with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Floating Museum, Skyart, Bright Star Community Outreach, Inc., and the Lycée Français de Chicago.