The Story of an Artist

My name is Ishara Henry and I am a self-taught visual artist currently based in Mckees Rocks, PA. As a Black woman and visual artist, my work is an impassioned commitment to social justice, community building, and mental health advocacy. Shaped by life experiences, I use my creative skills to amplify marginalized voices. Art, for me, serves as a potent tool for healing, fostering positive mental health, and instigating social transformation. Using my photography and videography practices, I strive to challenge prevailing narratives, spotlighting overlooked issues within Black communities. I create as a means of expression but also as a means of connection. Whether I am working with a client to tell the story of their event, creating a portrait, or working on a personal project of my own, my goal is to make the viewer feel something when looking at my work. For me, images whether moving or still are memories, moments in time, with feelings and emotions tied to them. Whether we are physically present in those actual moments to experience them or not has no relevance. My ability to capture those feelings and emotions allows me to connect with others on a deep and personal level. I consider myself an instrument, as an artist, and it is my privilege to be used as such for someone to tell their story. Communication with clients before they are ever in front of the camera helps to ensure that, together, we're able to capture an authentic experience.

As a woman of color, I feel it is imperative that black and brown communities see ourselves in positive images representative of life, all parts of life, especially in images around Mental Health. My passion for mental health and community work drives my art. I believe that art has the power to heal and bring communities together. Within my community, there is a stigma surrounding mental illness that I believe needs to end. Through my artistry, I aim to create narratives that promote well-being and challenge societal stigmas surrounding mental health. I attribute the inspiration behind this artistic passion to my immediate family, their mental health journeys and how their journeys ended.  In 2021, I suffered the devastating losses of both my mother and sister, following the passing of my father in 2006, which profoundly affected my mental well-being. As a result, I embarked on a deeply personal journey to confront my own mental health and trauma through the lens. To process the whirlwind of emotions I was grappling with, I turned the camera on myself, documenting the raw manifestations of my mental health struggles and began to share them publicly. My mission: to push back against the prevailing perception because no one should feel like they can’t speak about what they’re dealing with mentally and/or emotionally.  It is a very vulnerable process, especially allowing others to view these images, but it has been healing and the catalyst for so many connections and conversations that may have not happened otherwise. Honestly by extending this powerful healing experience to others, guiding them on their path to self-understanding and offering a true reflection of themselves, I feel that the conversations that my images spark could save someone’s life.

I am a very passionate about creative practice, my impact within my community, and the quality of work that I provide. I understand that, for some of us, images can become the only tangible thing that we have left to remember the people, places, and things closest to us. They are a token of moments we can't replicate or repeat.


Out from the Mist 2021-2022, 2023 Affinity Award Winner

Mindblown II August 2022

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Initiative (formerly Pittsburgh Paints) July 2022, December 2022

AACOA Kwanzaa Community Art Show December 2022

Hip Hop: A Black Tie Affair February 2023

26th Art All Night April 2023

Evolve Evening of Arts for Autism October 2023

Pittsburgh Seen Honorable Mention October 2023

Envisioning A Just Pittsburgh Honorable Mention 2024

Cooper-Siegel Community Library Solo Show March - April 2024

Photo Credit: Julie Kahlbaugh