I am excited to feature Janeshae Henderson for our Women’s History Month blog series. Her photographic masterpiece, “Permanent Fear,” was published in LOGOS Volume 9 in Fall 2016, and it was featured as the artwork for the journal’s cover. It was a pleasure to talk to Janeshae about how she created the piece, and she provided lots of insight into the ways in which scars (the focus of her piece) continue to influence her work today. Check out the interview below!
Janeshae Henderson was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. She discovered her passion for photography in 2010 when she took her first photography class in high school. She completed her BFA in Photography in Spring 2016, and she is now a Missouri State University alumnus. She is considering furthering her education as she plans to pursue film production and business. Eventually, she would love to travel and become a successful photographer.
Briefly describe the inspiration for “Permanent Fear” and the steps you took to create the piece.
“Permanent Fear” began with just a fascination of skin, how it heals, and the ways in which it bounces back from the unthinkable. The project started with just images of moles, small scars, and stretch marks. About a year into it, I felt like I didn’t have enough. I wanted to go bigger.
I was intrigued by the captions for the pictures of the diverse range of women you represented. Tell me about a couple of the ones that stood out to you the most.
There were two women who stood out the most as I was shooting this project. Both of them had breast cancer and double mastectomies. Even though they had been through similar situations, their experiences were completely different. One of them had decided to get a breast reconstruction surgery, and the other had not. The woman without the reconstruction seemed to be very confident. She even told me she mows her lawn without a shirt on. On the other hand, the woman with the reconstruction surgery was not as confident. She did not like her new breast because of the scars and folds on her skin. Both women were beautiful!
Were there any specific challenges you encountered while creating this piece? If so, describe how you overcame them.
The biggest challenge for me was probably discovering why I wanted to do this project versus understanding why I was actually doing it. For me, the “why” typically doesn’t come at the beginning of a new series of photos. I work my way up to it as I’m figuring things out. “Permanent Fear” started with a fascination, but after working with my models, it became about them. I wanted to hear their stories, assure them that their scars were beautiful, and build their confidence. The more I worked with these individuals, the more the project became about my own fear of having a scar like my models. The scar itself does not scare me; it’s the traumatic experience that causes it.
Do you see scars (both physical and emotional) in a different way now than when you initially created the piece? If so, describe how.
Of course! I want to photograph every large scar I see now. I definitely want to ask questions and find out what happened. I feel like I’ve always been interested in scars in a physical sense. However, after working on this project, I feel like I am more emotionally attached to them.
Does the work that you do in your career field relate to themes that are relevant to Women’s History Month, such as gender roles within the community? If so, provide a specific example.
Not at the moment. I want to get into more work focusing on things that are going on in my community and that I can relate to. For example, I have ideas about black women, people of color in general, and gun violence that I will hopefully be able to accomplish this year.