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Adele Henderson

Adele Henderson

b. 1955
Born: Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.

Adele Henderson, a native of Nebraska, grew up in a family of painters. She received a BFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1977) and an MFA from Arizona State University (1982). She moved to Buffalo in 1987 to teach printmaking at the University at Buffalo Department of Visual Studies (previously the Department of Art). At UB she served as department chair from 1998-2004 and (as of 2013) is currently head of printmaking and director of graduate studies. Henderson is a board member of the Western New York Book Arts Center and a founding member of Clean Air Coalition of WNY.

Henderson grew up in the Cold War era, with the additional threat of tornados in her home state of Nebraska, and was constantly aware that either she or her family members could potentially die at any minute—an anxiety that influenced her subsequent art practice and activism. “I think at a very young age I became preoccupied with death—not in a negative way, but just sort of trying to figure out how to live my life, how to try to be more aware of each moment, and to be present in the moment. That’s kind of what my work is about; it’s very political in a lot of ways, although it’s not really overtly political. I try to make it beautiful and make it look seductive so that people want to look at it … A lot of my work is influenced by current events, even though a lot of it has a kind of pseudo-antique quality to it.” [1]

One example of the ways this theme has manifested itself in Henderson’s printmaking, particularly in the post-9/11 era is her series, “Perception of Risk” [2009-present], which the artist says “borrows from the science of Risk Perception by using an x-y axis to map out and visualize perceptions of risk to myself and to others, real and/or imagined. Each charting varies according to when it was made.” [2] In a similar vein, she notes, “The '72 hour to-go-pack' series consists of items one should have packed and ready to go in case of an attack, according to a government website on terrorism and disaster preparedness. I have modified the list and conflated it with a faux 17th Century script to give it an aura of authority and reverence.”

Henderson’s artwork has been exhibited in over 30 solo exhibitions in venues across the US including the Hewlett Gallery at Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh, Penn.), Anchor Graphics (Columbia College, Chicago), Colgate University (Hamilton, N.Y.), and the Print Center (Philadelphia), and in over 150 group exhibitions in countries including Australia, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, and Slovenia. Her prints and works on paper are in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; National Museum of American Art; New York Public Library; the Kennedy Museum of American Art, and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, among others. Henderson has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (Works on Paper); Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (Printmaking); Artists Projects: New York State Regional Initiative grant; and residency fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, Brandywine, Roswell Museum and Art Center, and Open Studio (Toronto). She was designated one of the Burchfield Penney’s first “Living Legacy” artists in 2012.

Henderson lives and works in Buffalo, N.Y., with her husband, photographer/educator/writer/curator Robert Hirsch, and their two dogs.


For more information on Adele Henderson, visit



[1] Adele Henderson, audio interview with Heather Gring, Burchfield Penney Art Center, 07/26/2102. (See audio clip at right.)

[2] Adele Henderson, “Recent works,” artist’s statement on her website, http://www. Smithsonian:



Listen to Adele Henderson’s interview with Heather Gring of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, conducted on July 26th, 2012. In their conversation, Henderson discusses the early influence on her of the artists in her family, the teachers she studied with, the impact of Cold War paranoia and its connection to the climate of fear in the "War on Terror," the challenges of her chosen field, and other subjects.