John Henry, Renowned Sculptor And Co-Founder Of Sculpture Fields, Passes Away

  • Wednesday, November 2, 2022
John Henry
John Henry

Internationally renowned sculptor John Henry, co-founder of Sculpture Fields at Montague Park with his wife Pamela, has passed away at the age of 79 at his home in Brooksville, Fla.  

John and Pamela first envisioned Sculpture Fields in 2006 when his studio was based in Chattanooga and led a grassroots effort to create an international sculpture park opening the park in 2016. 

John Henry added to the legacy of Chattanooga’s forward-thinking pioneers in enhancing the cultural life of the community, it was stated.

“I have known John Henry for over 30 years,” said Bill Overend, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sculpture Fields at Montague Park.  “To understand John, one only has to look at his work. John was bold, direct and unrestricted in life yet down to earth and he was happiest when swinging from a crane putting the finishing touches on a 100-foot-tall sculpture.”

John Henry is best known internationally for his monumental abstract sculptures of intersecting welded steel beams and monoliths.   After designing, engineering and welding all of his sculptures in studio, he places linear and planar pieces of colored steel in precariously balanced configurations.  John’s work can be seen all over the world from public installations to entrances to global corporate headquarters.  

When asked about his work in 2015, he told Nashville Arts Magazine that he liked to talk less about himself as a sculptor and more as a builder and likens the builder terminology to artists who use intuition and inner vision rather than literary vocabulary to communicate.  “Years ago, cultures had a visual language and understood it.  Now, though, we are out of practice and are still trying to understand.  We have the need for language as a reference rather than experience as a reference. Art is not necessarily for immediate communication, but the experience of learning experience itself.”

John Henry was born in Lexington, Ky., and received his first degree from the University of Kentucky in 1965.  He went on to earn degrees from other universities including a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1969.  John was very active in the art and sculptor community in Chicago for the rest of his life sitting on many boards and art councils.  He was a Board Trustee for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts in 1991 and served on many committees, Co-Chaired the Board in 2002 to 2003 and was on the Trustees Executive Committee until 2012. The list of international installations, solo and group exhibitions, selected awards and positions, art professorships and curations are too numerous to mention.   

“As the Board of Trustees of Sculpture Fields at Montague Park, will miss John’s drive, determination, clear eye for quality and his leadership and feel a responsibility for maintaining the legacy of his life’s work by maintaining the huge mark he has left on the City of Chattanooga,” said Jay Heavilon, board member of the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park.

A memorial is being planned for John Henry and details will be announced soon.  Sculpture Fields at Montague Park is accepting donations in John Henry’s name to be included in its capital campaign. To make a donation, visit www.sculpturefields.org

John and Pamela Henry
John and Pamela Henry
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