Light Work presents Object Lessons by North Carolina-based artist James Henkel. In his new exhibition, artist James Henkel looks back over thirty years of image-making, following a conceptual and formal thread that ties his work together and seems to stubbornly insist on resurfacing.

The exhibition runs Monday, October 25, through Thursday, December 9, 2021. Light Work's reception and gallery talk for James Henkel takes place on Thursday, November 4, at 6 p.m. in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery.

Whatever is discarded, broken, and damaged draws Henkel to it. The objects he collects, assembles, or deconstructs are humble, common, and often no more than the scale of the human hand. Both the patina of wear and the handling that was often the source of the object’s destruction are clearly present. He presents pieces of ceramic pots, bowls, bricks, toys, combs, and well-worn books in their broken fragments. Completely useless now, they remain a testimony to someone’s life. This is what Henkel elevates by photographing these found objects so directly. Tension abounds in his work between the humble and the monumental, between play and decay, between high and low. The artist cross-references grander ideas from art history, painting, and sculpture, while also pointing back to the simpler but profound experience of photographing an ordinary life.

Light Work is thrilled to welcome patrons back into our exhibition spaces for in-person self and staff-guided tours, openings, and artist talks. In reopening, Light Work pledges strict adherence to the most up-to-date COVID-19 safety protocols in order to protect patrons, artists, students, and staff.