Henry Behind the Scenes: Portrait of the Staff as Artists

Do art museums attract artists as staff? Do you need an affinity for the arts to work at an art museum? Yes, and it helps.

The Henry staff artistic profile
A word cloud representing the staff of the Henry

Of the Henry’s 38 full-time staff, 26 percent are practicing artists. They identify as painters, illustrators, writers, actors, filmmakers, multimedia artists, photographers, or a combination of mediums.

Laura Kinney, a Gallery Service Representative who also works with our prep crew, works with various media including “painting, drawing, assemblage, bookbinding/bookarts, and eglomise (reverse glass).” She also occasionally works with video and dabbles in website design and coding.

Webster Crowell, also on prep crew, is a filmmaker and the creator of Rocketmen the Series which had a phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign this summer.

Webster Crowell. Photo By Michael Doucett

When Dustin Engstrom, Executive Assistant to Director Sylvia Wolf, isn’t managing her packed schedule, he’s an actor and playwright.

Dustin Engstrom. Photo By David Wulzen

Four of us are non-practicing artists, meaning we were formally trained and have worked as artists in our respective creative fields, but no longer do. We are a musician, fiction writer, photographer, and sculptor.

Nearly 60 percent of our staff considers themselves to have an “artistic nature.” What’s that mean? It’s a wide-ranging field: arts and crafts, textiles, cooking, decorating, art history/critical theory, cinematography, photography, video, digital media, music, printmaking, art writing, drawing, illustrating, acting, gardening, and serving as an artistic liaison/interpreter.

One staff member, when we were discussing how practicing artists often need “day jobs” in the United States, responded passionately, “Being an artist is a professional occupation. We need to recognize the value it has. Creative content is America’s biggest export.”

At the Henry, we believe that originality and creative thought belong to us all: the working artist, the hobbyist, the supporter, and the audience. Our work at the museum inspires us to push past limits and imagine with more daring. What should we write, film, sculpt, or bake next?

The Week Ahead @ The Henry: Open House!


Last year's Fall Open House packed the gallery. Photo by Amelia Hooning
Last year’s Fall Open House packed the gallery.
Photo by Amelia Hooning

Join us for the best house party of the season this Friday, October 25th!

We’ll start the evening at 6 pm with a special cocktail hour for our Patrons and Contemporaries. At 7 pm, Henry members get in, followed by the general public at 8 pm. Bring a date, bring your friends, bring your circuit training shoes (seriously, we have quite the night planned for you).

We are going to have tours of our five fall exhibitions with Henry guides, Poetic Interventions with Tara Atkinson of APRIL, exhibition-inspired performances from Kate Wallich of The YC, and the aforementioned Circuit Training preview with artist Lacy Draper.

And what’s a party without cold beer from Pyramid Breweries (you get two free drink tickets with admission) and a food truck named NOSH (self-host) — not to mention the best beats around with music powered by KEXP!

Tickets HERE!

Henry Behind the Scenes: Museum Education & the UW Community

This morning, the Henry welcomed students from the UW Bothell campus for a tour of our external art installation Sanctum.

Courtesy of the Henry
Museum Education Coordinator Feney Perez gives a talk on Sanctum to UW Bothell students.

Museum Education Coordinator Feney Perez led the tour and discussion about Sanctum for UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Science Professor Carrie Bodle’s course BISIA 374: Video Art.

Courtesy of the Henry
Feney explains the how Sanctum was installed inside the museum’s front entrance.

“Part of the course asks these students to examine new art forms and new art experiences in relationship to body and electric technology,” Feney explained. “Sanctum was a perfect opportunity to tie in these questions alongside a larger discussion about building a narrative, developing processes from concept to completion.”

Sanctum employs surveillance systems to generate cinematic narratives with social media content that matches the demographic profile of passers-by. The artists James Coupe and Juan Pampin are both associate professors in UW’s DXARTS program, an interdisciplinary degree-granting center designed to support the emergence of a new generation of hybrid artists. The installation opened this past May.

Courtesy of the Henry
A view of the students from behind a Sanctum monitor

Following their visit to the Henry, the UW Bothell students will develop and create their own media-based project for class.

“By unpacking the art themes that are central to Sanctum, we also discussed the install and the proposal processes that began back in 2010,” said Feney. “This gives [the students] a professional development perspective, along with inspiration for their own research and representation of new ideas.”


Would you like to bring your class or group for a tour of the Henry? We offer guided tours for groups of all ages. Please contact Feney Perez at tours@henryart.org or by visiting our online application http://www.henryart.org/tours.

Public drop-in tours are held every first Thursday at 7 pm and every Saturday at 2 pm.  Join us!

SANCTUM readies for a May Opening


“In an era of status updates, tweets, and check-ins, the geography of public, shared spaces needs to be reconsidered, along with our expectations of privacy in them.”
James Coupe and Juan Pampin

Have you noticed all of the changes on the façade of the Henry? We are currently installing an interactive art piece, Sanctum, created by artists James Coupe and Juan Pampin. Coupe and Pampin were chosen in 2010 from 91 applications who answered an open international call, soliciting proposals for a site-specific project to transform the façade of the museum’s main entrance and to engage the UW population and the many visitors who pass by the Henry every day.

Sanctum, which officially opens May 4th, seeks to investigate the narrative potential of social media while raising important and provocative questions about the conflicting imperatives emerging in our culture as we promote and embrace ever-more-intrusive electronic media, while still cherishing traditional notions of privacy.

From those who choose to participate in the project, Sanctum will actively gather information via sophisticated surveillance and profiling technology and match it with data drawn from social media sites to shape original plausible and implausible fictional narratives.

To learn more about the project and to contribute with narrative content, please enter here. You can also opt in by scanning the QR codes are posted on signage outside the museum.

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Artist Lecture: Paul Laffoley

Paul Laffoley. THE KALI-YUGA: THE END OF THE UNIVERSE AT 424826 A.D. (The Cosmos Falls in the Chaos as the Shakti Orohoros Leads to the Elimination of all Value Systems by Spectrum Analysis). 1965. Oil, acrylic, and vinyl lettering on canvas. Courtesy of Kent Fine Art, New York.

Paul Laffoley, founder of the Boston Visionary Cell and Henry exhibiting artist, offers an intense, deep, and mesmerizing conversation this Saturday from 1-4 pm at the Henry.

His discussion will traverse the conceptual overlap between art history, architecture, classical literature, natural and occult sciences, and science fiction in contemporary painting – and we are sure, more.

As the lecture is long, we invite attendees to get up and stretch as needed. There will be refreshments in the Education Studio.

If you are attending the Open House this Friday, you can gain early access to Paul Laffoley: Premonitions of the Bauharoque, his first solo exhibition on the West Coast.

Artist Lecture: Paul Laffoley
Saturday, April 6th
1:00 – 4:00 PM
Henry Auditorium

Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice

UW Art Lectures Poster

This quarter, the Henry is hosting ART 361, Critical Issues in Contemporary Art Practice, in our auditorium. The class features artist lectures every Thursday night (until March 7th) at 7 pm. With sponsorship from the New Foundation, the class “lectures” are open and free to the public. That means YOU. This series is part of the new Nebula Project. The Nebula Project is a new initiative of the UW Division of Art that will support a variety of experiences to promote and expose contemporary art to our students, staff and faculty as well as to the broader arts community.   The Nebula Project has been made possible by the generous support of The School of Art, The College of Arts and Sciences, The New Foundation Seattle and the Henry Art Gallery.

Here is what you have to look forward to (Or miss out on. Your choice):

February 21st
Sam Lewitt’s practice often examines communications systems and technologies, both obsolete and cutting edge, that are central to contemporary life. For the 2012 Biennial, his subject is ferrofluid, a mixture of magnetic particles suspended in liquid that is used in a wide variety of technological applications, including computer hard drives, audio speakers, educational tools, and military aircraft. In the presence of a magnet, ferrofluid coagulates to resemble a solid mass, its contours conforming to the magnetic field yet retaining the plasticity of a liquid.

February 28th
Tamara Henderson is a Canadian artist who lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia. She will speak about her artwork. Read more about her on this webpage, plus she has a video posted on Vimeo. Henderson is also involved in a project in the Jacob Lawrence Gallery that involves building a bar-like structure and film set in one of the gallery rooms. Working with her will be Julia Feyrer, another Vancouver, BC, artist.

March 7th
Makan, founded in 2003, is an art space, a project and a collective based in Amman, San Francisco and somewhere in between. Alongside Samah Hijawi, the three collective members include Ola El-Khalidi and Diala Khasawnih. Ola works in the arts as an organizer, curator, and collaborator; she received an MA in curatorial practice from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2012. Diala is an artist and a translator who likes to bring people around a table to eat and talk, and if that could be art, she is happy.

Vis-à-Vis Society Poem-Survey Findings


At our Graduate Student Happy Hour on January 10th, we had the pleasure of hosting the Vis-à-Vis Society. During the event they conducted experimental poetry using write-in survey questions. Here are the composite poems from their findings!

Composite poem from the Vis-à-Vis Society. The Vis-à-Vis Society’s poem-survey asked people to choose an object in the Mitchell Exhibition “Like a Valentine,” listen closely, and then write down what the object said.

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