For Daniel A. Henderson '11 HON, whose art explores the viral allure of technology and its unintended consequences, the relocation of three of his sculptures to the ground floor of NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute represents a homecoming of sorts. “Fossil Fuel” (2009), “Yellowstone” (2009) and “Premo” (2011) are now situated in an expansive new venue that allows spectators to fully appreciate the scope and grandeur of his work.
“It was really a very organic process where you and I can draw a plot for a garden but we really don’t know where we are until it’s finished,” Henderson recalled. “Once we had this physical space completed and here in an innovation institute, President Bloom said, ‘I have an idea, I’d like to see what you think about this’ and generously offered that we think about putting sculpture in this space, and it just made sense conceptually. But now as we sit here amongst them, it really has an impact, even more than what we thought when we were talking about it. So that’s how things work sometimes – it’s an organic process and, in a way, it’s almost like the pieces chose themselves for this space.”
The Temporality of Technology
Since 2007, Henderson, a member of the NJIT Board of Overseers and Albert Dorman Honors College Board of Visitors, has been engaged in the ambitious pursuit of outsized public sculpture. An inventor who developed the wireless picturephone and holds 29 U.S. patents, Henderson believes that invention, like sculpture, is an artistic endeavor. Through his work, he shows how the permanence of iconic products — from Viewmasters to Princess phones — sculpted in stone represents the connection with the natural world and contrasts with the temporality of technology and the materials from which they are constructed.
His second solo museum exhibition was on display at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J. In 2009, he donated his sculpture entitled “The Brick” (2008) to NJIT, where it is permanently installed in the main entry of Fenster Hall. In recognition of his exceptional achievements as an entrepreneur, inventor and sculptor, and as an esteemed friend of the university, NJIT conferred the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, upon Henderson at the 2011 commencement ceremony.
Henderson began his career with IBM and was invited to work with Kazuo Hashimoto, known as the inventor of caller ID and the modern answering machine. He also worked with Jack Kilby, inventor of the integrated circuit. NJIT has been privileged to have Henderson present the Hashimoto Prize to outstanding doctoral graduates at the commencement ceremony. After the United States Marine Corps, Henderson earned a B.S. in business from Southern Oregon University, where he also received the 1999 Distinguished Alumni award. His prototype wireless picture phone was received by the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in October 2007, and he has been recognized in NPR, Bloomberg Business Week and the Wall Street Journal.