Sonja Henderson creates healing communal spaces to record personal, collectiveandancestral histories. Her use of Healing and Social Justice practice informs her artworkand how she engages with communities. “Restoration” of the mind, body, spirit andearth is Sonja’s point of departure, from Peace Circles to monuments. Sonja’s publicartwork and memorials are born in collaboration with the people and their neighborhoods to celebrate stories of healing, cultural identity and historic legacy. Sonja’s large scale public memorials like the “September 11
th Wall of Remembrance”
at the Chicago History Museum, MLK Living Memorial in Marquette Park and theMamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Memorial to be cast in bronze for Argo Community High School (2023) are tributes to personal heroism and collective change. This work-in-progress has already gained Congressional Recognition andis slated by the Department of the Interior to be included in the protected national parks. Sonja believes interactive public art and communal spaces are powerful conduits to healing and reclaiming one's personal story and collective history.
In January 2020, Sonja founded the Mothers Healing Circle (MHC) to help heal Lawndale mothers from trauma, due to the violent loss of their children. Together, through meditative visual art workshops, storytelling, singing and yoga the mothers have a shared virtual and real space to heal and disrupt the cycle of pain and trauma. Sonja’s studio practice is also informed by her community-based restorative practice. She is fascinated by materials, found objects and the intrinsic stories they have totell. Sonja is exploring the aspects of sound and vibrational healing in her personal workthrough her collaboration with musicians and healers. “The Ancestor and The Boom”is a headdress and holster adorned with ritual objects, healing medicine and anoriginal looped soundscape in the headphones. This ritual garment brings a senseof calm and connection when worn, the soundscape’s base rhythm is a heartbeat inamniotic fluid. Sonja seeks to create a series of soundscapes and intimate object pairs with Japanese music historian and archivist, Yoshi Takahashi. Sonja and Yoshi are currently writing, drawing and producing soundscapes together that tell a sharedhistory of Japanese and Indigenous American internment, culture and genius.