Unexpected Beauty in Micro Worlds
Photographer Lee Hendrickson introduces us to his work saying, "In a crystal, we have clear evidence of the existence of a formative life principle, and though we cannot understand the life of a crystal, it is nonetheless a living being with unexpected beauty. Imagination provides the scope that allows us to see those many things already there." Such is the life and artistic journey of local scientist and artist Lee Hendrickson. He believes it's the artist’s goal to make the invisible visible. The process of doing so reveals to the viewer a new thought-provoking worldview. Lee brings forth the “hidden world” seen only through the lens of a microscope.
Lee Hendrickson began his incredible journey into science while growing up outside Chicago, IL. At 12, he earned money by shoveling snow during the seemingly endless Midwest winters. The funds provided him with enough money to purchase his first microscope, which was a welcome addition to his small laboratory set up in the basement of the family’s home. Lee eventually moved his scientific curiosity to the much warmer climate of Atlanta, GA, where he attended Emory University to pursue his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Shortly before graduation, Lee took his first photograph, through a microscope, of a rat flea, an insect that transmits the feared bubonic plague. Fascinating as this was, he realized there were limited career paths in pictures of fleas. Instead, Lee entered a career as a research scientist with both academic and biotech institutions. This career choice would reveal many scientific paths over the next 35 years of his life.
While enjoying a successful career in science, Lee obtained an A.A. degree in Biomedical Photography from Bellevue College in Bellevue, WA. The program allowed him to focus his skills in both macro and microphotography. During his training in the 1980s, he discovered crystals' hidden and magical world. Lee began growing his crystals which led to the discovery of endlessly fascinating subject matter for his photography. In 2005, he founded Side Street Photographics, which proved a fateful move.
Not long after Lee set up his small enterprise, he was caught in his third corporate downsize, lending to his decision to pursue his photography and art full time. As a scientist, Lee Hendrickson is continuously experimenting. His recent creations result from new substances, including DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), an amino acid found in the brain, and CBD (connabidiol) from the hemp plant. The compositions created are built on nature’s art and architecture, self-organizing into an infinite array of patterns and color combinations.
"In a crystal, we have clear evidence of the existence of a formative life principle, and though we cannot understand the life of a crystal, it is nonetheless a living being with unexpected beauty."
Today, Lee and his wife live in Goodyear, Arizona. His home studio/lab is an environment for expanding his knowledge of crystal compounds, photographic techniques and exploring the endless array of patterns hidden in the micro worlds. Lee lectures on his technique with the Goodyear Artist Series as a guest lecturer and is a Featured Artist with the Mission Federal Artwalk, Little Italy, San Diego, CA, and receives the Art Purchase Award at the same show. Scientist and Photographer Lee Hendrickson was voted "Best in Valley" best artist by Phoenix Magazine readers in 2020 and has exhibited in 14 juried art shows during 2021. No doubt his subjects are endless, and his images are infinite.