ZEAL HARRIS

Currently, I'm making whimsical, colorful, narrative paintings that can be described as urban vernacular, folky, political cartoons. My materials are experimental and I use fabric, panels, paper, canvas. digital processing, and waterbased and oil-based mediums.

My work is about experimental storytelling. It’s about collecting, telling, and revealing characters on journeys through space and time. Whether the work is a micro-narrative or an epic, linear or non-linear, or whether it is a recognizable or an obscure narrative, the characters in my paintings are vehicles whose stories serve to complexify grandnarratives of black lives. Always, I am seeking new angles to prompt fresh dialogue about sociocultural issues. Race, class, gender, culture, love, war, and the mystical coexist in this world. Oral culture is privileged.

While my work is unabashedly political, it is also sentimental, and critical. I am most pleased when my work prompts fresh dialogues through multiple academic discourses and diverse audiences.

Like many artists, I am liminal and I'm a hybrid. My influences are eclectic and span the history of artmaking from around the world and from the beginning of time. My influences and references can vary from artwork to artwork.

Having said the aforementioned allows me to reveal a too short cross section of influences that includes; Nellie Mae Rowe, Jacob Lawrence, Xiomara de Oliver, Florine Stettheimer, Eduoard Duval Carrie, Zora Neale Hurston, Carmen Lomas Garza, Haitian Vodou flags, Mexican Ex-voto paintings, Asian scroll paintings, Persian miniatures, graphic novels, and an array of narrative textiles and contemporary illustrations.

With my work, I am committed to documenting the breadth and depth one African-American woman’s representational imagination and her concerns. Leaving trace— signifyin’ this life to others is the benediction.

 American Sculpture Garden, 2004, 10 x 12 inches, acrylic on canvas © Zeal Harris, used with permission of the artist.

American Sculpture Garden, 2004, 10 x 12 inches, acrylic on canvas
© Zeal Harris, used with permission of the artist.