This week we welcome Julie Harrison, a multidisciplinary visual artist and educator who probes methods of science and mechanisms of technology to explore the dualities of nature and artifice. Having moved between drawing, photography, video, painting and performance, Harrison currently makes experimental abstract drawings using repurposed microbiological images from various sources. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards and has exhibited widely. From 2003–2010, Harrison founded and directed the Art & Technology B.A. Program at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, (having taught there since 1992). She is currently associated with Granary Books, publisher of work exploring the intersection of word, image and page. For the past 45 years she has been an active professional artist in New York City, has garnered numerous awards and exhibited both locally and internationally. Her work resides in public collections at The Getty, the Library of Congress, Harvard University, Columbia University, New York Public Library/Berg Collection, Brown University, and others.
“I am fascinated with scientific discovery as a source of creative inspiration. “Brains” furthers my exploration into the seeming dualities of nature and imagination in order to ask how society comes to terms with changes in our environment. How can art capture the essence of environmental change? With Covid-19, the biological has infiltrated our daily consciousness — we consider it and fear it.
“Brains” is a series conceived as part of a longer-term project begun in 2017 called “Bodies,” exploring the liminal space between science and fiction. Composed of drawings inspired by microorganisms and the brain’s nervous system, these works consider invisible living organisms and create impossible universes that question our understanding of what is real.
My methods for creation are improvisational and process oriented. After years of working digitally, I began to draw in 2017, focusing on small bodies, invisible bodies and the microscopic. I fracture, crop, combine, reassemble, paste and draw into found and re-photographed images of microorganisms and other disposable shapes; they overlap and float in space. I frame and rearrange images in ethereal ways that are surprising and disorienting and leave much to the imagination of the viewer. The works invite questions: What are these forms? Are they parallel to things and experiences we know? Do they belong together? Are they real or fictional? The deeper one looks at the drawings, the more one is drawn into the clandestine. These drawings live at the edges of the recognizable.
A recent article about my work in Interalia Magazine written by Kimberly Lyons says: “It seems that Harrison is attuned to something essential, fluidly dynamic core aspect of organic life that she perceives in all species and that she very much is contributing to our awareness of not just the forms but their qualities with her art. It may be ventured to say that she is among those artists working today across many mediums, who newly transmit awareness of our ecological co-habitations.”
See more of Harrison’s work on her website and Instagram page.