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BIO

Heather Bird Harris is an artist, mother, and educator living in New Orleans, Louisiana. She makes paint from handfuls of foraged, local earth pigments and mixes it with washes of water on canvas to recreate geologic processes and process eco-anxiety. Her work explores the throughlines between land history and Louisiana’s current environmental crises as well as mothering in the face of climate change.
 
Heather Bird Harris received her BA in Art History and Studio Art from Skidmore College in 2009 and master’s degree in education leadership from Columbia University in 2013. As an educator, Harris coaches school leaders and writes anti-racist history curriculum for schools in Louisiana which is a lens that deeply informs her work. She has participated in multiple exhibitions in New York, Louisiana, and California including Anthropocene Epiphany at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art and her 2022 solo exhibition Where the Water Goes. Harris was recently selected for the 2022 Arts New Orleans SALON Residency. She’s represented by Cole Pratt Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana and Mont Art House in Houston, Texas.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Raising my family in one of the fastest disappearing land masses in the world, my work is a meditation on land loss, the illusion of human control, and the search for answers in the face of climate change. 

 

My process starts with the history that has been baked into the land and how that history connects to the land's present environmental crises. From there, I forage a few handfuls of earth (clay, top soil, discarded bricks, oak galls, and decaying tree bark) and process them into fine pigments which become the first layers of each painting. From there, I add water and synthetic color to the land and respond to what happens. 

The materials often mirror land loss on the canvas. As is true of the levees and the Mississippi River, I find the work is most successful when I work with the elements instead of trying to control them. As I continue to find my place among the shifts of the earth, I discover comfort in the familiar patterns between cellular, natural, and solar shapes. When these micro/macro parallels show up on the canvas, it reminds me of how deeply connected we are and makes the insurmountable fear of climate change a little easier to deal with.

I believe the earth has a long memory and that we do not - intentionally or otherwise. I view my roles as an artist, mother, historian, and citizen as deeply intertwined and linked to the same core responsibilities: interrogate imbalances, reckon with hard histories, create beauty, and work towards a future of natural equilibrium.