Meet Clifton Henri, Featured Artist for 2019 Bayou City Art Festival Downtown coming in October

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown 2019 featured artist Clifton Henri is an award-winning photographer and visual artist from Chicago. Henri, along with 300 artists from around the country, representing 19 different disciplines, will showcase their art at Bayou City Art Festival Downtown.

The festival benefits Houston nonprofits, and will be held on Saturday and Sunday October 12-13, 2019, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.


Henri began his professional career as an art director for a boutique advertising agency and transitioned into becoming a full-time independent artist. Henri’s work is rooted in identity, under representation and self-declaration. He visually illustrates and narrates the African diaspora using personal experiences and feelings as fuel for his portraits.

Henri’s photography has taken him on a path of defining moments. His journey has helped him define his place in the world and find a stance on how he wants to be seen. Influenced by imagery from the Civil Rights Movement and the Harlem Renaissance eras, Henri’s photographs are based on personal and shared experiences of humanity.

With his art, Henri challenges his viewers to find themselves, but also the poetry within the photograph. Henri exhibits across the U.S. with galleries and in juried art festivals and he has won over 50 awards since 2008.


When did you first recognize that you were an artist/photographer? I knew from grade school that I was interested in being an artist. Especially after field trips to museums and experimenting in school. (Back then we still had art class every week).

It evolved into drawing characters from Saturday morning cartoons to drawing ninja turtles and girls’ names bubble letters for lunch money.

I got into photography after watching my mom use an SLR camera. She took a picture of my brother and I, that I remember vividly, and recall seeing the photo weeks later and was amazed. My brother and I were super crispy/sharp and the background fell off in a blur and I thought it was beautiful and wanted to learn.

I didn’t learn officially until college, but I did dabble with a point and shoot in the meantime just documenting summers and such.

I chose photography too because I sucked at drawing. Lol. From my imagination that is. I couldn’t get on paper what was in my head and I quit drawing. But photography ended up being a shorter learning curve for me and I got tons of encouragement while I was discovering my eye.

What inspires you?  People inspire me. The everyday. The simple moments that tend to have massive impact. I like to find the poetry in life and then interpret it visually.  

I am also influenced by my culture. Growing up I didn’t see much work around that represented me and my experiences. Maybe occasionally but those works weren’t really celebrated like others. So I decided that the human stories that I share through my photography would be primarily with black and brown faces as the stars. Always thinking and believing that “We are Fine Art too.”

I wanted to take control of the narrative and present black culture in a monumental light. Images that would tap dance on your emotions using nostalgia as a weapon and creating these images that were reflections of me.

Any particular influences? I see and understand the power of representation and being able to see yourself. This is one of my major inspirations.   

My aesthetic is influenced by a lot of American painters/illustrators surprisingly and then photographers. Norman Rockwell, Kerry James Marshall, and Hopper on the painting side. And Gordon Parks, James VanDerZee, and Roy DeCarava on the photography side.  They are all amazing visual storytellers and they’ve all helped me define my style.

What do you hope people take away  from your art? I hope people take away a documented piece of humanity honestly. I want the work to influence and inspire those that experience the work. I want them to see the Black portrait and black body and black culture at the subject of Fine Art! As a part of American culture. I want people to feel good. I want the work to remind them of themselves and moments in time that they can reminisce on.

Upcoming plans?  I have a new gallery space, FLYPAPER, that I am opening up on the Southside of Chicago and am currently working on programming for 2020. The name of the place is inspired by “The Sweet Flypaper of Life”… a collaboration between writer Langston Hughes and Photographer Roy DeCarava.

The gallery will focus on works on paper. Photography specifically but will include literary works and illustration.

I am featured in an exhibition this December at PRIZM during Art Basel in Miami where “The High Road” will be featured. This is the same show that lead to a shout out from Alicia Keys on Instagram by posting “Wings.”  So, I’m definitely excited about returning again this year to PRIZM.


Houston’s largest art festival will transform the streets of Downtown into artistic avenues bursting with colors and culture. As one of the top fine art festivals in the country, the weekend event will provide patrons with the opportunity to personally meet artists, view original works, and purchase world-class art, prints, jewelry, sculptures and more.

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown will feature live music throughout the festival along with entertainment, beverage stations, food trucks and much more for patrons to enjoy. In the Children’s Creative Zone, the festival’s nonprofit partners will host hands-on art activities for all ages.


Online tickets are now available at Tickets online are $12 for adults and $5 for children 6 – 12; children five and under are free. Also available online are two-day passes for $20 and family passes (two adults, two children tickets) for $30. Adult tickets at the gate are $15 cash; $16 credit card.

For updates on social media, follow the official event hashtags at #HouArtFest and #BCAF, like the Facebook page, or follow on Twitter and Instagram.