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Courtesy of Darren McDonald
Courtesy of Darren McDonald
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Artist Flies Work Above Three American Cities In Statement Against Gun Violence

Picture of Carley Lanich
Updated: 28 November 2016
New York-based artist CJ Hendry has taken to the skies with her latest work in a bid to take a stand on gun violence in the States. In an aerial live art exhibition, Hendry’s sketch, scaled up to 3,000 square feet, was flown for eight hours on June 18th over Orlando, New York City, and Chicago.
Courtesy of Darren McDonald
Courtesy of Darren McDonald

Inspired by the recent mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Hendry and her team staged the public art display in a statement against gun violence, specifically seeking to spark conversation about controversial gun laws in the United States.

Hendry’s display featured a sketch of a bloodstained t-shirt wrapped in the shape of a gun with a label reading “Made in U.S.A.” The three enlarged reproductions of Henry’s sketch were towed by three chartered prop planes along with the message, #EndGunViolence.

The Orlando shooting, in which 49 were killed and 53 injured, is being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“T-shirts are representative of everyone no matter race, gender, sex or culture,’ Hendry said in a press release. ‘We all wear T-shirts. This piece is both a symbolic representation of recent violence, and a tribute in respect to the hundreds of people who have lost their lives to gun violence in this country and around the world.”

Hendry, who was born in South Africa in 1988, moved with her family to Brisbane, Australia at ten years old. She dropped out of school at the University of Queensland in 2012 to pursue a full-time career in art.

Developing a style of her own, Hendry almost exclusively uses UniPin pens, layering small circles to create shade and contrast in her drawings. The effect creates remarkable detail in her sketches, leading to a photographic appearance in her work.

Hendry often chooses everyday items as her subjects, having worked on series of drawings featuring playing cards, helium balloons and 50 foods in 50 days.

In a project last year, Hendry bought a rare pair of Nike Air Mag shoes, dipped them in black paint, ruining the coveted pair of shoes and sketched what she saw. The drawing sold for $130,000, all of which Hendry planned to use to help provide shoes to needy children in New York.

This project and others have garnered attention from the art community and beyond. Boxer Floyd Mayweather and rapper Swizz Beatz have enquired about Hendry’s work, and Hendry has produced and hand-delivered a piece for hip-hop artist Kanye West.

Using Instagram as a major platform to showcase and sell her work, Hendry has been featured in two solo exhibitions, where most of Hendry’s work sold before the exhibition opening.

Letting her more than 200,000 followers into her process, Hendry uses Instagram as an outlet to tease her upcoming projects, share her work when finished and connect with potential buyers. She also keeps a live YouTube stream of her studio for fans to watch her work.

Having only moved to New York last year, Hendry said she was very fortunate to grow up in Australia in an environment where gun violence is controlled.

“Through this very literal piece, I hope to inspire the possibility for change, by allowing people to make their own interpretation of its association to the current policy and gun laws that exist here in the United States,” Hendry said in the press release.

The Made in the USA piece is the first of Hendry’s work to feature color. With this work, Hendry is encouraging her audience to have discussions of their own interpretation of the piece.

“Like the current problem that so clearly exists, this exhibition is large-scale, live and real,” Hendry said in the release. “If nothing else, I hope it creates a platform for people to continue the conversation that is necessary to put an end to what seems like a constant stream of tragedy.”

Courtesy of Darren McDonald
Courtesy of Darren McDonald