#72: Andy Harris: Super Powers, Scissors, & Glue

Andy Harris talked about teaching with a focus on bringing out the super powers within his students. He shared some amazing projects that use art to consider identity and build relationships within the classroom. 

He also shared some great advice for artists around seeking opportunities and being ready when doors open. I loved hearing about his process – from collecting images to painting, cutting, and glueing paper, drawing on his experience hanging wallpaper.  

Andy Harris graduated from VCU, currently works out of his studio in Norfolk Virginia and teaches art in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. 

ARTIST STATEMENT:  

I record local architecture, storefronts and suburban homes, while interrogating the landscapes and detritus of late-capitalism. In focusing on loci and objects around me, I’m taking the temperature of/ memorializing the intersection of time, place, and commerce, and how goods and services create our landmarks and sense of place. 

By using collage, I combine artistic will with chance to create artifacts that make the familiar seem slightly uncanny or defamiliarized. The labor-intensive nature of collage – of transforming one found material into renderings of other found quotidian (and often manufactured) artifacts of late capitalist society – brings attention to these overlooked places and things and recontextualizes them into art objects. 

Links:

My practice involves the patient observation of environments to gather the collected stories they tell. I find revelations in trash, poached bicycles, ice cream melting on the sidewalk, or from the way the afternoon sun cuts across a motel sign. When taken out of their natural context, these inadvertently overlooked moments become the opportunities I seize for developing works. I utilize exploratory methods to paint paper which is ultimately manipulated to create multi-layered collages inspired by my observations of environments.

Within the last year, I have reached three milestones in my career as an artist outside of teaching. Beginning in March 2020, I signed a contract with Apple’s music label PLATOON to create album and song artworks for British rapper Jevon. During that project, I collaborated with 1983 Creative out of Los Angeles to create an augmented reality listening experience using my work and making each collage come to life. 

In February, I had a solo exhibition at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia, a show that presented over 60 new collage works on paper. With this exhibition, we created virtual gallery tours and even set up a gallery drone that users could sign up for and drive around the gallery to experience the show. 

Lastly, I teamed up with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in order to create artworks that would bridge the gap between the visual arts and environmental conservation. After spending days with the CBF, I took those experiences and created three works for a group show titled NOURISH at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Virginia Beach, Virginia. These works are some of the largest collages I have made to date. 

Each one of these events in my career are all adaptations we’ve had to make in the art world due to Covid-19. That being said, I’ve taken these experiences into the classroom as well. Instead of in-person student shows, I teamed up with other art ed colleagues to produce our city’s very first drive-in projection student art show.

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