In an effort to continually expose our students to various professional artists, the EA Visual Arts Department was thrilled to have photographer Will Harris showcase pieces from his visual family memoir, You can call me Nana, in the Crawford Campus Center Gallery. Running from Jan. 17 to Feb. 16, Harris' show uses photography to tell a story of his grandmother who suffered from dementia in the later years of her life, and includes "a mix of photographs including family archives with altered images, collage, and new photographs including views inside the multi-generational family home."
On Thursday, Feb. 2, Harris visited EA to serve as a guest instructor in Honors IV and Honors III photography classes, as well as meet the EA community and discuss his photography at a mid-day artist's reception in the gallery. "We can not express how grateful and honored we were to have Will as our guest artist and instructor," said Visual Arts Chair David Sigel, Hon. "His work is striking and moving with its intimacy and meaning, and the community could not say enough about the show and the person they connected with during this gift of a day. The opportunity to see and hear about Will's art in a gallery and in the studio was such a powerful tool in giving guidance and inspiration to our students in finding their own creative voices."
Harris holds an MFA in Photography & Integrated Media from Lesley University, has exhibited in the United States, India, and Denmark, and in 2015, had a residency at Arteles Creative Center in Finland. During an interview with him, Harris gave additional insights into his gallery show and background:
Can you describe the process of documenting your Nana's life to visually tell her story, especially through the lens of dementia?
Given her dementia I was actually a bit cautious of photographing her. Instead, I tried to visually represent her experience with dementia as well as mine as her grandchild. This was done through photographs of her spaces and objects as well as using the family archive. Creating and capturing images that spoke to what she might have been going through; what it was like watching some you love drift away both physically and mentally.
What is the process in putting together your Crawford Campus Center Gallery show? How did you select the pieces that would be included?
For this gallery show, like others, it is more about figuring out how images work in the space. I already had a selection in mind that I have worked with in past gallery shows, but this show has given me the opportunity to include some of my older work, which has been nice to see two projects together in the same space.
What was it like visiting and working with the Honors III and Honors IV photography students? What advice would you give to these aspiring photographers?
It was a pleasure to visit and work with both groups of students. I would tell them ‘do not be afraid to tell your story or the stories that you are interested in. If you pour passion and effort into artwork, there are endless possibilities.’
How and when did you first get into photography? What do you like most about it?
My interest in photography started at a young age. My parents were amateur photographers and I often played with their cameras. This eventually led to them buying me my own camera when I got older. What I like most about photography is that it is an artform for everyone. Anyone can pick up a camera and use it to capture a moment in time. There are also endless uses for photography from id photos, medical photography, astrophotography, to fine art photography and everything in between.
As an artist and photographer, what inspires you the most?
I think I would have to say lived experiences, as so much of my work is very personal to me in terms of the subject matter. I do also find inspiration in films, music, and books.