1/7 - 3/20/22: Where Everybody is Somebody

Henry Horenstein (Boston, MA)


  • Opening reception: Saturday, January 8 / 5-8pm
  • Free and open to the public
  • Masks are required by all guests in the 3S Lobby, Gallery, and restrooms regardless of vaccination status.
  • Additional receptions during Art 'Round Town* on Friday, February 4, & March 4 / 5-8pm

Artist Statement:

Over the years I’ve photographed many different types of subjects, even animals and the human form.

But I’ve always returned to my roots as a documentary photographer. More than anything, I like a good story. And I try to tell one in a direct way, with humor and a punch line, if possible. With this in mind, I have photographed country musicians in Nashville, my family and friends in Massachusetts, horse racing at Saratoga Springs, nightlife in Caracas, old highways everywhere, everyone in Cajun Louisiana, South American baseball, tri-racial families in Maryland, and much, much more.

For subjects, I prefer older cultures and places, especially disappearing ones. That’s what my history teachers, Jesse Lemisch (at University of Chicago) and E. P. Thompson (at University of Warwick), taught me. These cultures and places might vanish, but it is a historian’s righteous duty to make sure that they leave a trace. I also was very influenced by another teacher in Chicago, John G. Cawelti, who taught me that popular culture should be taken seriously. One other great influence was my teacher at Rhode Island School of Design, Harry Callahan. Harry encouraged me to “shoot what you love,” and to pay no attention to what others are doing. Thank you for that, Harry.

The above was written for a book I published called Close Relations. It was my first artist statement, and I wrote it reluctantly. When I was a student, even artists rarely had artist statements and photographers definitely didn’t. Maybe that was because we weren’t considered artists back then. That recognition came later, and it was good news and bad. Good that our status was heightened and bad that we had to come up with something insightful to say about the photographs. It was so much easier just to say “that works” or to look thoughtful and mumble something unintelligible, hoping that no one would press you on it.

Anyway, the first time I had to produce an artist statement was when I published my photographs in a book I called Animalia. The day had clearly passed when I could just say “I like animals and decided to take a few pictures. Here are some of my favorites.”

So, I did the expedient thing and hired Tom Gearty, then a graduate student at Massachusetts College of Art, to write an artist statement. By then photography students were writing artist statements before they even had any art. Tom was an ace writer and made me look good. Turns out my work is a whole lot deeper and more meaningful than I ever thought it was.

I’m quite used to writing my own artist statements now. I even like doing it. It’s a useful way to get clarity for yourself and explain to others what you’ve been up to. And people seem to want to hear this. In fact, you could view this entire book as an artist statement of sorts.

I think a good artist statement is straightforward and explains rather than confuses. Keep the Art Speak to a minimum. Let’s say we sit down over a cup of coffee and I discover you’re a photographer. I might say:

“What kind of work do you do and what’s it about?”

And you might say:

“I take photographs of (blank) that try to show (blank). I’m interested in the subject because (blank). In making the work I was influenced by photographers who work in a similar style and whose interest in (blank) reverberates with me strongly. Namely (blank). I hope that the work will make viewers feel (blank). Fill in the blanks and provide details. Something like that.

Artist bio:
Henry Horenstein has been a professional photographer, filmmaker, teacher, and author since the 1970s.

He studied history at the University of Chicago and earned his BFA and MFA at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he studied with legends Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind.

Henry's work is collected and exhibited internationally and he has published over 30 books, including several monographs of his own work such as Honky Tonk, Histories, Show, Animalia, Humans, Racing Days, Close Relations, and many others. His next monograph Speedway72, which features photographs made 50 years ago, will be published in 2022. He has also authored Black & White Photography, Digital Photography, and Beyond Basic Photography, used by hundreds of thousands of college, university, high-school, and art school students as their introduction to photography. His Shoot What You Love serves both as a memoir and a personal history of photography over the past 50 years.

In recent years, Henry has been making films: Preacher, Murray, Spoke, Partners, and Blitto Underground, which will premier in 2021. He is currently in production on Where Everybody is Somebody, a film about Cajun Louisiana.

Henry is professor of photography at RISD and lives in Boston.

*Monthly gallery walk in Portsmouth.


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Generously supported by:


3S Artspace is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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