Combining interests of nature, love, and sorrow, Emma Henderson of Art Dilemmas has been recreating and understanding light and space since a young age. Recently, NMCO Media exhibited Emma’s pieces as part of Avenue L, a partnership of local businesses whom showcase and further the reach of artists in Las Cruces and southern New Mexico.

Avenue L (AveL) is a recent collaboration of art-related businesses at E. Lohman and Walnut Street, who seek to increase the number of art exhibition venues in Las Cruces. On the third Friday of each month, Picture Frame Outlet, Big Picture, Wild Birds Unlimited, NMCO Media, and MDC Computers will participate as hosts and feature local and regional artistry—including Raku, sculpture, paintings, fiber art, jewelry, and photography.

Emma Henderson was NMCO’s first AveL exhibit. Her show, NMemonic, drew a generous crowd while unveiling her unique collection of pieces and prints. We recently spoke to Emma for a glimpse at the woman behind the canvas, where she shared the creative process and inspiration for her works.

Meet the artist, Emma Henderson!

1. Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Southern New Mexico. Spent 6 years at Holloman AFB in New Mexico, and I lived in Panama City, Florida for 6 months.

2. How long have you lived in Las Cruces?
13,950,820 minutes and counting 
(26 years).

3. What first interested you in art? How long have you been creating pieces?
Observing the world is the root of my initial interest. Recreating and understanding light and space have piqued my interest for as long as I can remember (age 3: I drew a bale of turtles. I still have the picture). I’ve been creating for 30 years, but as for professionally creating—18 years. 

4. In which medium of art do you typically create your pieces?
Currently, 2D: Oil paint, acrylic, aquarelle, Prismacolor, charcoal, and graphite.

5. What inspires your work?
Nature, other creatives, love, and sorrow

6. What does your creative process look like?
Pre Meditative visualization (staring blankly).
A lot of complaining.
I do some research: visual aids in nature or via the internet.
When I have a good idea, I write it down or make thumbnails [sketches].

7. How long does it typically take for you to complete a piece?
One hour—on a good day. Six years—if I hit a wall. On average—a couple of weeks

8. Where does the name Art Dilemmas come from?
I adopted the alias and signed my art as “Emma el Dilemma” in 2012 after some friends/colleagues and I formed the art collective: The DANG Art Gang (Dona Ana New Grounds). The name came to me late one evening when I was chatting with (my now partner) Dave Witt. When contemplating my business name, that in itself was a dilemma. The answer was always there, I just had to put Art before it.

9. Explain the pieces you’ve crafted that portray your daughter. Why are those significant to you?
Her portraits capture the passage of time. I think most parents can relate on how quickly children grow. Each year, for her birthday, I make her portrait. Her hair is different, features change, my style evolves. Painting the subtleties of an ever-growing Niomi reminds me how important it is to pay attention.

She is the best thing I have created. I try to honor her every year by recreating her even though the original is perfect.

10. What are some of your favorite pieces?
“Lonely Bird” & “Niomi, age 8″

11. Why are they significant to you?
“Lonely Bird” represents my past. Niomi is my future.

12. Why is your art important to you?
It gives me life. I depend on it. It is therapy, it is my history, it is my income. It is the thing that gets me out of bed.

13. What did you love most about your show, NMemonic?
I enjoyed talking with other artists. I especially enjoyed the ride home; Niomi shared her impressions on all the shows for AveL.

14. Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
I do!
October 7th, Project In Motion (Las Hermanas de Sangre)
November 16th,  Amaro (Solo showing)
April 2018,  Art Obscura (Solo Exhibition)

15. What can local New Mexicans learn from supporting artists in, and around, their community?
They can learn that great art isn’t exclusive to name brands, metropolises or any one region. Artists are hidden in every corner of this state. True patrons of art and supporters of the local economy know the value of investing in people.

16. Anything else you want to add about your work and local artistry?
As of April 2017, I am the sole owner of Art Dilemmas, LLC. This is my career. It is my most rewarding and terrifying endeavor since becoming a mother. I’ve noticed a pattern with my generation of local artists; more of them are pursuing art as a career. This gives me pride. I hope we all succeed.

17. Where can locals find and purchase your pieces if they’re interested?

Next month, NMCO Media will host artist Anahy Nuñez for AveL. Stay connected on our social media for AveL updates and information on upcoming exhibits!