Fun, experiential, and trippy. That’s how Erin Harmon, associate professor of art and art history, describes her latest work. Inspired by the city of Memphis and supported by the Rhodes community, Harmon’s Aggregate Optics of Make-A-Do will open at the University of Memphis’ Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art on Friday, Jan. 18. Harmon will discuss her most ambitious work yet during an artist lecture Feb. 21 at the gallery, where she will share the influences, stories, and processes that helped shape the exhibition.
Harmon’s work for the upcoming show, including ceramics, painted muslin panels, and projected animation, was directly influenced by her experimentation with scale while designing a set for Ballet Memphis in 2014. “That triggered a big change in my own studio. It was an exciting new experience that created this fire in me to deal with the same formal challenges that the ballet design presented. It’s a much different sense of scale than I’ve ever worked with before,” says Harmon. She intends her work to convey the joy of the physical act of painting and for viewers to feel themselves as the subject in her immersive two-dimensional landscape.
Harmon says this work would not have happened without the supportive environment of Rhodes. She has been working with colleagues in the art department as well as with her students and Memphis Center Fellows to create and install the show, which will open with a reception on Jan. 18 from 5p.m. to 7 p.m. and run through March 8. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to attend the show that, in Harmon’s own words, “is deeply entrenched in the Rhodes community.”
By Jaclyn Flood ’21