I was recently able to snag some of Jaz Henry’s free-time. She is a Houston-based artist that uses digital collaging and a unique developing process to reveal deeply conceptual images that have many different qualities, from dreamy to psychedelic to controversial. The artwork is beautiful and transcendental and very, very thought-provoking. Though each piece is open to vast interpretation, I think they may all resonate with every one of us.
Have you always made art?
Yes. My grandma was definitely a major contributor to art in my life. She pushed us to draw and paint and kept us occupied with all sorts of crafts. But I’ve always found solace in art. It’s so personal and expressive.
Is your favorite color blue?
Actually it is. I’ve always said that my favorite color is cerulean, which is another word for a dark blue hue. So I’m definitely attracted to the deep blue in cyanotypes.
What’s up with all the blue?
A cyanotype is a photo printing process that, when exposed to UV light, produces a cyan-blue tinted image. Cyanotypes can be toned using teas or coffee as well. I’ve been working with different toning methods in my most recent work.
I took courses in college that introduced me to techniques beyond basic darkroom photography. Cyanotypes really stood out to me. The non-silver photography process is simple, and it’s easily attainable. I love how the cyanotypes contrast in relation to the images I create, creates a whole new dynamic which pushes the limits of the process.
What’s your studio/ (workspace) like?
I’m in the process of building a darkroom space. But currently I have space conveniently located next to the bathroom which is used as my wet area. I use the sun to expose my prints so I don’t need to rely on an exposing unit. The whole space is very DIY; I try to utilize what I have at my disposal to create a comfortable workspace.
What’s your process like?
I start off by hunting down imagery to cut out for my work. I use some of my own photography but I enjoy using found photography and public domain images far more. I have a hard drive stuffed with imagery I can pull from as well as a collection of old magazines and books. I create my montages digitally which is the most tedious part of the process. I spend hours and days piecing together collages. After they’re finished, I then print them as negatives on clear vellum. The cyanotype process is a contact print process, so I use the sun to expose the image onto the pre coated paper.
I understand with photo-montaging that sometimes a lot of processing and final decisions aren’t made until you’re actually piecing things together, but do you have any recent short-term goals for your work?
I really want to get my claws into screen printing; I want to create some work that’s more accessible. I have far too many “works in progress” so we’ll see what happens.
What gets you in the groove to create? Do you make a drink, do some stretches, listen to a Francoise Hardy album, etc.?
I work best when it’s really late. The baby and hubby are asleep, and the house is quiet. I’ll put on some 90s R&B jams or some Futurama as background noise and delve in. My insomnia is pretty bad, but I guess it’s necessary when balancing motherhood and art life.
What do you miss most about your home planet?
And last, but not least: What makes you happiest in life?
My family. I’m a new mom, and it’s amazing how much love beams out of me when I’m with my little family.
She was also featured on a fancy video interview that you can check out below!
Let’s Stay Friends!