Artist Henry Perez has roughly 100 wives.
He does not share legal binding with any of these women (or even marital love). Rather, the Miami photographer uses the term to platonically address and organize some of his closest female friends, many of whom are subjects in his latest photography exhibition, “La Femme … en Noir et Blanc.”
The exhibit, which opened Friday at Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, showcases the natural beauty of 50 of his so-called “wives” through 128 black-and-white portraits.
“They are just so much fun and amazing and special and talented and gifted, I mean just an incredible group of women,” Henry says. “So I thought I needed to do something … so I thought you know what, I’m just going to do a photo exhibition with these women to honor them and to showcase their inner and outer beauty.”
The show, on exhibit until August 8, portrays the women in untouched black-and-white photographs. Henry says the setting for each photograph is unique to the subject, whether chosen out of personal comfort or sheer inspiration.
He says he set three goals for himself for the creation of the series: everything must be shot in digital black and white; he would not alter the photos in any way; and he would pick four photos from each shoot for display.
“I don’t like the way the world of photography has gone where everything is fake, and not real. You look at a magazine cover, and you know, somebody looks plastic,” he says. “They look like dolls. Beside all the surgical enhancements, they add Photoshop. Their faces are washed out–there’s no character. No distinction. Everybody looks the same. I detest that.”
Henry worked on the exhibit for just more than a year, finishing the final shoot on July 6, 19 days before the exhibit opened. He says the exhibit was his way of urging women, and all who view the series, to embrace their own style.
“I want women to feel empowered,” he says. “They don’t have to be cover girls. They don’t have to be 20 years old–have the model look–to be able to be photographed, or enjoy being photographed and be part of a show. I want to get that across so that anybody, but especially women, can see that they don’t have to have plastic surgery.”
In addition, proceeds from the sale of the artwork and his new coffee table book benefit the Sabrina Cohen Foundation for Individuals Living with Paralysis. The nonprofit is dedicated to providing individuals living with paralysis funding, research, and therapies aimed at improving quality of life.
La Femme … en Noir et Blanc will be on display until August 8 at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens. Admission is free.