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Artist in Residence Captures a Common History Through Photography

2016-17 Artist-in-Residence photography portfolio.

Since 1995, it has been a tradition to invite an international artist to the school to develop an artistic project in collaboration with students and teachers. The artist in residence for the 2016-17 school year will be the photographer Nicolas Henry, who stopped by the Lycée August 26 to present his work to the faculty and staff and to tour the campus. 

Henry traveled the world for three years as a cinematographer for the project “6 Billion Others” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The finished project – which told the stories of more than 5,000 people across 75 countries with the goal of gaining insight into what connects us and what distinguishes us – was exhibited at the Grand Palais in Paris.

He then pursued his personal work creating a series titled “The Playhouses of our Grand-Parents” combining installations and photographic portraits of ancestors around the world. Henry’s new publication “Cabanes Imaginaires autour du Monde,” which focuses on communities dealing with changes in traditions, nature and family, will be released in October 2016.

Henry was chosen by a jury of teachers, staff and parents at the Lycée, which included Delphine Geannopulos, for this year’s residency program. Geannopulos said that the extensive portraits and their beauty was what helped the jury make their unanimous decision. 

“We were fascinated by his extensive group portraits and the beauty of them, as well as how many countries he has visited,” Geannopulos said. “Because of that, we thought he would understand the multicultural environment of the Lycée.”

Henry has worked his way north with his new project, starting in Gary, Indiana, and moving from art centers on the south side of Chicago to the north of the city. Because of his travels in the city, another hope, Geannopulos said, is that the Lycée will be able to create relationships with surrounding communities.

“He is on the Southside now, traveling through neighborhoods and cultures taking photos. Through his experiences and connections throughout the city, we also thought that maybe he could help us reach out to other communities and neighborhoods,”  Geannopulos said. “He is coming in (to the school), but he could also take the Lycée out.”

Before traveling through Chicago, Henry traveled the world. His previous project, “Tales From the World,” helped prepare him for his work in Chicago and the new round of installations and people he would photograph.

Henry said that for his residency he hopes to “create a common history with these images and then create an installation with them. (It) will also show the history of Chicago. For me, it’s a new experience to use images to create a narrative while working with students.”

While in residence at the Lycée, Henry’s goal is to create a monumental photographic work that will theatrically stage the personal and collective stories of our community in order to capture its beauty and its essence. He also hopes to capture the multiplicity of Chicago. Henry will be at the Lycée from November 7 to 21.

He will work with groups of students on this photography project, which will help him get to know the community and the Lycée, as well as help students who may want to pursue a career in the arts. You can view his work here. Check back for more updates on the progress of the residency.

Rachel Hinton
Communications Intern