People born and raised in Appalachia often speak of a connection with the land that sounds unique to that experience. Certainly they have no monopoly on such appreciation for nature, and the pastoral figures in the biographies of a wide variety of artists, but the eastern region that stretch from the Southern Tier of New York to northern Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia has a cultural identification with environment that sets it apart from other areas.
Elsie Harris is one such artist. Claiming a life-long connection to the land: “As a child I would wander into the woods and sit on a hilltop to innately be a part of it…mountains, rocks, creeks and hillside ridges. It is where I find both joy and serenity,” she sketches areas that attract her attention, and translates those studies onto canvas, using heightened color to capture the experience of being on the site. This emphasis on subjective emotion places her firmly in the expressionist camp, yet there remains some degree of attachment to the realism, and a sense of place.
“My intention then was to push the edges, processes and limits of realism with color, configuration and composition while still being faithful to an original image. For me it is a magical intimacy – a spiritual consciousness – one with nature – that is the message in my work.”
You can currently find Harris’s work in two Kentucky galleries: CRAFT(s) Gallery, 572 South Fourth Street, Louisville, and Art of Danville Gallery, 413 West Main Street, Danville.
Harris' work is seen in many corporate acquisitions and personal collections both here and abroad. Her paintings have also been included in various juried and invitational exhibits across the nation, and she has been commissioned to produce paintings and graphics for numerous organizations. She has worked as a graphic artist with Kentucky Educational Television, and has been involved in an administration capability with many arts organizations and agencies in Kentucky.
Exhibits - Invitational:
Hunt Morgan House: Art Connects, Lexington, KY, 2016
KY Crafted: Breeders Cup Exhibition, Lexington, KY, 2015
Coop; Sale: Group Exhibit and sale, 2015
Grid: Creativity by the Square Foot, New Editions Gallery, Lexington, KY, 2015
Gallery on Main, Richmond, KY, 2014
KY Guild of Artist/Craftsmen, Berea, KY, 2014
LexArts, ArtsPlace Gallery, Lexington, KY, 2014
At the Rivers Bend, Evansville Museum, 2016
OH + 5 2016, Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athens, OH, 2016
Visions at the Capital Fifty/50, 2016
2016 Horizon: Contemporary Landscape exhibition, 2016
Appalachian Artist Guild National Juried Show, Blue Ridge, GA, 2011, 2014
OH+5, Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athens, OH, 2013, 2015
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Education: BA, Fine Art, University of Kentucky; AA, Fine Art, Sullins Junior College
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved