Marilyn Henrion’s new series, Mannahatta, is a bold, geometric expression of a life-long New Yorker’s reverence for and devotion to the city. “My work has always been deeply rooted in the urban geometry of my surroundings,” says Henrion who has a poetic frame of mind, an artist’s unbound creativity, and a
fascination with the layers of the city’s history. “The presence of the human hand on the landscape expresses our yearning for immortality, evidence that says I was once here.”
The title of Henrion’s new series is an adaptation from the Native American Lenape language meaning city of hills. Manhatta (a derivative) is also the name of a trendy new restaurant in the Financial District. In today’s New York, the past meets the present in many ways. “My work in this series focuses on architectural structures that range across the centuries and can still be appreciated as the visual heritage of my ‘hometown,’ ” says Henrion who has lived in New York City for all of her remarkable 87 years.
Henrion’s work is composed of digitally manipulated photographs, sent to a lab to be printed on cotton which becomes the top layer of her art work. The second layer is batting. The bottom layer —where much of the genius resides— consists of meticulously hand-stitched concentric circles requiring precise mathematic calculation, “which is why I love it,” she says. It is almost impossible to describe the infinitesimal labor, the intensive process which goes into each work. When asked about the evenness of her stitching, this age-defying perfectionist grins and admits “it takes years of practice.”