'The power of perspective': Artist Adreon Henry looks at luck and hope in 'Auspicious Premonition'
Auspicious Premonition, the new solo show from artist Adreon Henry, is currently on display at Camiba Gallery. In the various works that make up the show, Henry uses his talents for painting, screen printing, and weaving to create pieces that reference playing cards, lotto tickets, and other tokens of luck and hope to explore how we interact with those objects.
“Chance, luck, good luck charms – what do these things do? Do they serve any purpose? Do they just make us feel better, to help us get through the rough, tough times? Maybe so. I think either way, what can it hurt?” Henry says. “It really kind of delves into the idea of the power of perspective. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I want these pieces to really be a positive effect on the environment in which they live.”
The ideas of looking for hope and wishing for luck are all over Auspicious Premonition. “Yeah, lots of playing cards and the idea of chance and luck, casinos, money,” Henry says. “Lots of happy faces. Almost contrived symbols that we see every day and how to reinvent those, and what does that mean? You know, is there a difference in someone that’s a gambler at a casino… as opposed to someone that plays scratch off tickets or invests in bitcoin? Like what’s the difference? Is there one? It kind of gets murky there for a minute, so it’s fun to play with those and think about those different ideas of chances.”
Henry says he’s looking at the less cynical, more hopeful aspects of luck and gambling… mostly. “Especially, I think, [on the] surface level. Once you start delving down into the pieces a little bit more, there’s probably a darker undertone that’s existing there. And I think that’s just the way that I work. Ultimately, though, like I said, I think at the end of the day it’s about these pieces really having a positive aspect on an environment, you know. And I think, does the world need more of that? Maybe so.”
Despite all the playing card iconography on display in Auspicious Premonition, Henry says he’s not really a big gambler himself. “You know what, I’ll – like in many things – go through cycles. And I have to say I haven’t been to a casino in a very long time,” he says, adding with a laugh, “But I’ll play a scratch off!”
To accompany the visual works on display in Auspicious Premonition, Henry has also created a sort of soundscape that plays in the gallery. “I took certain notes – a middle C and down slightly – put those together and made kind of almost like a meditative soundtrack, and then embedded a cover band doing a Bob Seger track that really got my wife and I through some hard times,” he says, “You know, 4:30 in the morning if we can’t sleep because we’re stressed out about this, that, or the other? Well, you know, we’ll probably listen to some Bob Seger.”
Henry says the main idea he wants audiences to take away from Auspicious Premonition is a feeling of hopefulness. “It’s really the idea of the power of your perspective, really. And if you win or if you lose, what does it hurt to focus on that positive aspect more so than, you know, the trouble or the negative? I think that that’s something that’s really hard to remember.”
The works in Auspicious Premonition have taken Henry about six months to create, and he says that working on these optimistic pieces has been good for him. “You know, there have been times where things have gotten really rough, and it’s been nice to have this [work] as kind of almost a shield,” he says. “So I don’t have a problem with people coming and seeing these and saying, ‘Oh, you know what? I could take this shield – I need something like that.’”