Artist Feature: Claire Henry

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“lamphead” by Claire Henry

Claire Henry is a sophomore digital media communications major whose artwork varies from graphic design and digital-based work to photography and ceramics. 

In high school, Henry’s work in graphic design for her high school newspaper preempted her decision to declare a graphic design-based major in college. Henry has since worked to develop skills in illustration, drawing and photography-based work and describes her defined style as a hybrid. 

“It is not super cartoony, but it is not quite realism, so somewhere in the middle,” said Henry. 

Henry, who creates and translates her ideas through a wide variety of mediums, explained the pressure of creating something that comments on original and innovative ideas. 

“The most important part of art is the commentary,” said Henry. “The aesthetics are important, but it is not what art is. Art is communication and making sure that you are communicating something important that carries purpose.” 

While the discourse surrounding art is commonly centered around the freedom of creativity and unconditioned expression, Henry often feels limited with the pressure of creating something that is socially relevant and meaningful. 

“You always want to be making something that is influential and important,” said Henry. 

Henry explained that sometimes she just wants to create something pretty and that this endeavor can be challenging in a different way than creating something that maintains meaning and conveys social commentary. 

“Sometimes you just get an idea and you want to follow through with it, but it does not always have a lot of meaning and, in my mind, that lessens the quality of the work,” said Henry. 

Henry points to some of her work that she feels meets the standards she sets for herself as well as some of the work that she considers more for fun.

When asked about her favorite piece, Henry presents a bust covered in newspaper clippings entitled “Envy.”

“Envy” by Claire Henry

“It is about the unrealistic expectations from media that are placed on women and how they [women] need to look and how it has negative impacts upon society and women in general,” said Henry. 

Henry also enjoys making Redbubble stickers – one of her favorite pieces she has created is a High-C juice box. 

“I just really love High-C juice boxes and I wanted a sticker for my laptop that was a High-C juice box and that is about it,” said Henry. 

“juicebox” by Claire Henry

Henry did not begin her collegiate journey at William Jewell College. She first attended the University of Arkansas for the first semester of her freshman year where she was planning on going into the graphic design program. 

While the University of Arkansas has an established and traditional art program, Henry found herself missing Kansas City’s art scene. 

“I really missed the city and the foundation that it has to get involved in the arts,” said Henry. “Arkansas did not really have that.”

Since transferring to Jewell and declaring digital media communications for a major, Henry has enjoyed the opportunities and room for growth she has found in her classes. 

“It has been really nice to have a mix of communications-based education and art because it gives me more time to really think about what I want to do,” said Henry. “If I were to just get an art degree then I would get stuck with that and I would not have as many options. 

Art and expression are a core part of Henry’s identity and she is hesitant about a future in the arts for that very reason. 

“It is harder for me to do what I consider ‘good work’ when it is assigned to me and I do worry that if I work at a graphic design firm, I will lose passion for what I really like to do,” said Henry. 

Henry’s current plan is to go to law school and, instead, keep art as a hobby and for the occasional for-hire art projects. While law school is not set in stone for Henry, she believes she has a skill set that will set her up for success as an attorney, and a future in law will allow her the space to maintain her love of art.  

Hannah Koehler

Hannah Koehler is the page editor for Arts & Culture on The Hilltop Monitor. She is a senior majoring in English and psychological science.

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