Emma Hendry, Forest Fire, installation with neon trees that eminate a flickering red light, EDGE OF LIGHT at the Plaxall Gallery

Emma Hendry, FOREST FIRE

I use neon and LED lighting to make objects that would normally be made out of other materials or be found in nature seem surreal. I am also influenced by the thinking of conventional light objects (chandelier, floor light, chandelier) and using those categories to refer to symbols of nature to explore the lack of boundaries between these ideas as well as how each can influence the other. The specific glow of neon provides an element of fantasy– a media for the hypothetical.

Large-scale wildfires have been increasing more and more throughout the world and most recently in the American West. The human life lost and health complications due to the fires currently happening in California, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest is a tragedy in its own right. Furthermore, they highlight the gravity and interconnectedness of many contemporary issues. Indigenous Americans had ways of managing their local ecosystems using low-intensity fires. However in recent decades governments have suppressed these customs, leading to disruptions to the ecosystem such as ever-increasing megafires. Global warming also plays a large factor as higher temperatures and dryer conditions contribute to the severity of the fires so much so that trees can’t re-seed and re-root anymore.

In addition, wildfires are largely combatted through the exploitation of the prison population, many of whom are sick or in quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This experience of viewing the neon trees is intended to invoke a strange and somber feeling and suggest the process of a forest burning. The neon light will mimic the orangey red glow that can be seen during wildfires, and the blackened trees will show their death. Smoke particles from the fires allow sunlight’s longer wavelength colors like red and orange to get through while blocking the shorter wavelengths of yellow, blue and green. The skies appear bright red– a similar phenomenon to a sunset.

Emma Hendry, 2020
Emma Hendry neon tree for FOREST FIRE at EDGE OF LIGHT – work in progress

Emma Hendry is originally from Massachusetts. She holds a BFA in sculpture and a BA in cultural anthropology from Boston University where she won the Marianna Pineda Sculpture Award. Emma’s work spans illustration, lighting, and sculpture. She is very connected to the hardcore and punk communities, playing in multiple bands and organizing shows in New York and across the country. In addition to her art practice, Emma worked for 5 years as a lighting designer and production manager in New York City, and has previously worked at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. She is interested in urban spaces and public art, and has made public sculptures such as a piece for the Worcester 2019 Biennial. Her work has been published in various print and online magazines and has most recently been interviewed live on MoPop Seattle’s Instagram.