Artist Jon Henry started working on his photography series Stranger Fruit back in 2014. What began as a protest against senseless police killings of black people ended up being a lot of other things, too. Most notably, it's an introspective mirror that allows viewers to examine their own take on the subject.
The people we see in the photos are real mothers, posing in their own environment with their actual sons, reenacting what it must feel like to lose them. The mothers are isolated. Alone. Empty. When the trials are over and the protesters have gone home, when the news cameras are gone and nobody is around anymore, the mother remains on the site forever. There's no peace of mind; the scene will always haunt her.
These mothers understand that this could happen to their family at any moment.
From a rural area in North Minneapolis to a street corner in Jersey City, Henry has visited a lot of places for the series. "I chose these locations because I could find subjects there," the photographer told Fashion Life. "The locations are where the families live and work. I'm looking for areas that describe the city and/or state from a geographical and architectural point of view."
Stranger Fruit By Jon Henry
Even though these shots are staged, they radiate authenticity. "The families choose whatever they are comfortable with wearing, so that helps the natural feel," Henry explained. "The comfort level with the family also helps the feel of the images. These aren't actors, they are family that [really] consider these issues."
The photographer wanted the mothers to pose deadpan to appeal more directly to the viewer. And they do. They look directly in our eyes, as if asking, how do we feel and what are we going to do about this. "The viewer can make their own decision on how to respond to the images," Henry concluded.