John Henry has been creating unique sculptures for over five decades
John Henry is a Chattanooga resident and world famous sculptor who has been showing his work for over fifty years. He has artwork located in museums, as well as public and private locations all over the planet. He is the Chair of the local Sculpture Fields at Montague Park. The sculpture park is set on a thirty-three-acre lot, and is host to 27 international pieces of artwork that scale as high as 66 feet; it is located at 1800 Polk Street in Chattanooga, and it is a catalyst for the local art community.
The Pulse had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Henry about his artwork and his involvement with the sculpture park.
The Pulse: You have been acknowledged all over the world as an astounding artist, and for your ability to create artwork of various sizes. Though all of your work is powerful, some of your larger work seems to get some special attention. Can you tell us the size of the largest sculpture that you have created, and its location?
John Henry: I have made some rather tall pieces of artwork over time, but currently my largest sculpture is called Tatlin’s Sentinel. It is 104 feet high, and it is located in Dallas, Texas.
TP: With elite sculptures located in public and private areas all over the world, do you have a sculpture that you created which you would consider to be your favorite piece of art?
JH: I am reluctant to answer that question because in a way they are all my favorite pieces. It can be hard for people to grasp the fact that my sculptures are all a continuation of each other. As different and unique as they are individually, they all unite as one, much like a symphony.
There is no one note or sound that the composer would consider to be their favorite part, it would all flow together from the intro to the sonata to create their favorite part, which would be the symphony. Reminiscent to a symphony, all of my pieces combine to omit one powerful piece of artwork. So where I do have a favorite? The answer would be parts of all of them.
TP: Being the founder of the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park, and the Chair/Curator, can you tell me a little bit about the experience?
JH: It has been a project that has been in the works for a decade, since Ron Littlefield was still the Mayor of Chattanooga. We established the board roughly four years ago, and broke ground over two years ago; so it has been a very exciting and timely process. For the sculpture fields to finally be open to the public is very satisfying.
TP: The international sculpture fields really bring a powerful dynamic to the scenic city. One that possesses educational potential, as well as giving a boost to the local Chattanooga arts scene. Were those two elements part of the plan when you began the development of the sculpture fields?
JH: Absolutely. The educational inspiration of the sculpture fields is a major aspect for us, we pride ourselves on being able to give people a firsthand look at international artwork. The local art scene really has a lot to offer, there is some amazing artwork located all over the city.
The international aspect of the sculpture fields creates a gravitational pull, and will bring outside people from the fine arts community to Chattanooga. Once they are here, they will be able to explore some of the local artwork. So yes, both of those things were considered to be major aspects of the project.
TP: How long have you been a resident of Chattanooga, and what do you like most about living here?
JH: I have lived in Chattanooga for sixteen years. What initially brought me here is that it is a town that was built on metal production. Where nearly all of my sculptures are made of metal, it enabled me to have access to any material that I would ever need to produce my artwork, and that instantly made it my favorite part about living here. After being here for a while, I realized that there is so much that I like about living in Chattanooga.
The fine arts scene is thriving. The orchestra is world class. There are so many great places to eat, Chattanooga has a good energy about it, the scenery is beautiful, the people are fantastic, it is a wonderful place to live.
TP: What advice do you have for the aspiring artists out there that are having trouble finding inspiration?
JH: I have heard people say time and time again that they want to be famous sculptors like me, and that goes against everything that being an artist is about. Creating art is about doing what you love to do through self-expression.
If you love to do it, then do it every day with no intentions beyond creating art. Focus on your work, love your work, but produce your art. There is no substitute for work.
For more information about John Henry, and his selected pieces of artwork, please visit callancontemporary.com/artists/john-henry/bio