erica harris likes to make art.
I am drawn to:
anatomical charts, arabic newspapers, azbukas, abecedarios, asian pill packets, bingo dots, birdwatching guides, burmese grammar books, beeswax, broadsides, bakery string, braille, cancelled brazilian envelopes, carrier pigeon harnesses, cornerparts, connect-the-dot books, cyrillic letterforms, colored pencil, chinese notebooks, currency, candy wrappers, cardboard, doll arms, dried orangepeel, deeds, dress patterns, edging, elementary vocabulary, egg charts, eggshells, egg boxes, first aid manuals, flowered tablecloths, flashcards, french dictionaries, food packaging, gold leaf, global war maps, gravestone rubbings, gun diagrams, georgian dictionaries, gazetteers of nations, gameboards, gumsticks, housepaint, handwritten correspondences, handpainted signs, housecoat pockets, hindi stringpackets, hunting handbooks, indian postcards, ideas of hope, joss paper, laotian rice bags, lists of numbers, life magazines from the 40's & 50's, little wonder books, letterpressed ration cards, lowercase letters, matchbooks, montgomery ward catalogs, muskox likenesses, marblegame instructions, medicine labels, measuring devices, nepalese texts, nautical charts, old shoes, observation, obsolescence, piano parts, popular mechanics issues, pictures of small animals, polish, thai, and macedonian phrasebooks, paper masks, pin-up girls, piñata sorpresas, pinkham persimmons crates, player-piano scrolls, photographs of water and houses, palau, quiz-me games of useful knowledge, question and answer boards, retablo pieces, ritual objects, rice paper, sheet music, slovenian grain sacks, soap labels, small pictures of all animals, shrinky-dinks, sewing machines, shrine debris, serbian directions, seed diagrams, script practice sheets, sewingbox contents, typewriter keys, trim, the immigrant experience, toy cars, toy planes, tables of contents, things that fly, things in need of mending, the power of translation, toy theaters, teacup handles, titles, vintage album covers, wallpaper, what i remember, x-rays, yugoslavian lessonplans, yarn, ink, glue, and other languages...

Artist Info

I live in Brooklyn, New York. The history, debris, languages, and industries of my metropolis are a huge source of materials and inspiration. I also teach art to children, both here and internationally. In recent years I have facilitated projects in India, Central America, Southeast Asia, Macedonia, Brazil and New York City. These settings have had a profound influence on my work, and the collaborations with children have been extremely rewarding exchanges. I learn as much, if not more, from looking at children’s art and talking with them about their process and ideas as I do from museums and galleries. Using art as a tool to outline and interpret relationships to family, school, work, play, death, violence, society, and the environment, I am provided with such a simple visual vocabulary, so eloquent and universal.
Working in collaboration with communities where English is not spoken has also shaped the content of my work, particularly my relationship to language. I like using text; I use the printed word as a pattern, and I often refer to how words and images are interchangeable symbols. The story of the 20th century as told through an English as a Second Language primer is one I am compelled to cut up and re-tell. The basic sentences found in these elementary grammar books narrate customs, historic events, and approaches to everyday life in poetic ways that no history textbook has outlined.
While traveling, I concentrate on collecting collage material: old children’s encyclopedias and alphabet books, found photographs, sewing patterns, maps, gravestone rubbings, diagrams and instructional manuals, mid-century magazine advertisements, medicine labels, food packaging, candy wrappers and other ephemera. I incorporate what I find and see in the streets, neighborhoods and marketplaces into the narratives of my pieces: people carrying towers of goods on their heads, toys constructed from tin cans and old bottles, houses and bird-feeders made of corroding metal bomb carcasses. In these countries that have been so damaged by years of war and poverty, I became fascinated by how everyday experiences and ordinary objects related to destruction, chaos, immigration, memory, survival and loss. Something very mundane and ordinary could be a symbol of safety, shelter, or peace, while simultaneously being a relic of war. It is in this context that I am drawn to the use of simple imagery: an airplane, a house, water, shoes, birds. Combining discarded materials to make these narratives, such as a schoolgirl with a dress quilted from teabags, or a nest of old road maps, is like creating a shrine, or providing a sanctuary for people, places and objects that need mending.

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Erica Harris
w w w. e r i c a h a r r i s. o r g
315 East 5th Street Brooklyn, NY 11218
718. 687. 6356 |


1993 University of Wisconsin at Madison
Bachelor of Fine Arts, painting and drawing


2017 La Ceiba Gráfica… Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico
Cassilhaus… Durham, NC

2015 Kriti Gallery… Varanasi, India

2012  La Isla Foundation… Leon, Nicaragua

2011  Chhaap Foundation for Printmaking Trust… Baroda, Gujarat, India
New York State Council on the Arts Arts Bring Change: Teaching Artist Grant, Staten Island, NY

2010  Kriti Gallery… Varanasi, India

2009  Yaddo… Saratoga Springs, NY
New York State Council on the Arts Arts Bring Change: Teaching Artist Grant, Staten Island, NY

2008   Artpoint Gumno… Sloeshtica, Macedonia

2007  Instituto Sacatar… Itaparica, Bahia Brazil
San Francisco State sponsored Colima Community Art Project
Colima, El Salvador

2006  Blue Mountain Center… Blue Mountain Lake, NY
San Francisco State sponsored Colima Community Art Project
Colima, El Salvador

2005  Women’s Studio Workshop… Rosendale, NY
Hall Farm Center for Arts and Education… Townshend, VT
San Francisco State sponsored Colima Community Art Project
Colima, El Salvador

2004  Blue Mountain Center… Blue Mountain Lake, NY
San Francisco State sponsored Colima Community Art Project
Colima, El Salvador

2003  Hall Farm Center for Arts and Education… Townshend, VT

2002  Hall Farm Center for Arts and Education… Townshend, VT


2015 Kriti Gallery, Thirty Dirty Paintings … Varanasi, India
2012  B. Conte Gallery, Notions …Brooklyn, NY
2010  ISE Cultural Foundation… NY, NY
2009  E.J Belloq Gallery, Louisiana Tech University… Monroe, LA
2008  Object Image Gallery, What in the World… Brooklyn, NY
2007  Object Image Gallery, Flight Patterns … Brooklyn, NY
2005  Binnewater Arts Center, Smalls… Rosendale, NY
Object Image Gallery, Mayday… Brooklyn, NY
2004  Object Image Gallery, Burma to Brooklyn… Brooklyn, NY
2002  Williamsburg Art and Historical Center … Brooklyn, NY
1996  Gowanus Art Center… Brooklyn, NY

2011  Chhaap Foundation for Printmaking, One Bird, Infinite Birds… Baroda, India
Ann Street Gallery, Human Form… Newburgh, NY
Brooklyn Creative League, New Messages… Brooklyn, NY
Textile Art Center, Good Work… Brooklyn, NY

2010 440 Gallery, Amoeba to Zebra… Brooklyn, NY
Bond Street Gallery, Social Security… Brooklyn, NY
Green and Blue Gallery….Stowe, VT

2009 Lyons Weir Gallery, Art Bazaar… NY, NY

2008 St. Ann’s Warehouse, Great Small Works’ Toy Theater Festival… Brooklyn, NY

2007 Fenn Gallery of Contemporary Art… Woodbury, CT
Catherine Person Gallery … Seattle, WA

2006 Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Penumbra … Charleston, SC
Zimmer Children’s Museum, The Art of Time… Los Angeles, CA

2005 Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition, Pier 13 Exhibit … Brooklyn, NY
St. Ann’s Warehouse, Great Small Works’ Toy Theater Festival … Brooklyn, NY

2004 Michael Petronko Gallery, -Scope London… London, England
Michael Petronko Gallery, -Scope L.A. … Los Angeles, CA
Zimmer Children’s Museum, Show&Tel … Los Angeles, CA
White Columns Gallery, Groundswell Community Mural Project…NY, NY
Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition, Pier 12 Exhibit… Brooklyn, NY

2003 Object Image Gallery, Small Works Show … Brooklyn, NY
HERE Gallery, Great Small Works Toy Theater Museum … New York, NY

2002 Highland Art Center, Gazpacho… Highland, NY
Object Image Gallery, Lost Object, Found Image… Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition, Pier 10 Exhibit… Brooklyn, NY
Center for the Book Arts, Rare Books of the Future … New York, NY
Municipal Building Gallery, Faces/ Phases… New York, NY
Brooklyn Museum, Groundswell Community Mural Project…Brooklyn, NY