Boston Globe Names Artist Harris ’12 ‘One to Watch’
Since graduating from Assumption with a degree in studio art, Anne Harris ’12 has been making a name for herself in the art world. This spring, upon the completion of her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University, she was named by the Boston Globe as one of the five art school grads to watch for in 2021.
“Being included in the five art school grads to watch article in the Boston Globe meant everything to me,” said Harris. “It proved my hard work ethic, perseverance, and belief in my work to be true.”
Harris said she’s been “disciplined and focused on developing my artistic practice since my undergrad at Assumption” and spent the seven years—between graduating from Assumption and earning her MFA—painting, both inside the studio and outside in the Massachusetts landscape. Harris, who describes herself as an interdisciplinary artist who works in painting, performance, video, and installation, bases most of her work in nature.
“Working mainly outside, I engage in place-based art making and form relationships with the sites I work with [such as] Mount Greylock, local forests, and the animals that live there,” she explained. “I leave my paintings and installations in the woods to become a part of the local ecosystem. I wear my large, unstretched canvases on mountains in a performance to blend into the landscape.”
For the last seven years, Harris has combined her love of painting and hiking by capturing the natural beauty of Mount Greylock, the tallest mountain in Massachusetts located in the Berkshires. On her days off, she would drive 200 miles round trip to visit the mountain where she would hike and paint. “I visited the same sites year-round, to fully understand the place, and how it changed with the seasons and responded to the weather,” she explained. She created large oil paintings based on her hiking experiences from memory—which she sold as well as entered into juried exhibitions—as well as created her canvas camouflage project, in which she wears her unstretched paintings as camouflage to absorb the spirit of the mountain.
When the pandemic hit, Harris stopped visiting Mount Greylock and returned to the local forest she grew up with as a child in Worcester. “I installed my paintings in this forest and soon there were bobcats, coyotes and a porcupine interacting with these paintings,” she explained. “It was the porcupine that taught me even more about this forest in new ways.”
While Harris continues to learn from her surroundings, she credits Assumption’s art department for helping her get where she is today. “I had a strong, supportive faculty who always had my back, who saw and believed in my potential,” she said, adding that they taught her how to paint, incorporate emotion into her work, and become a better photographer in the woods, among other skills. “They wanted to help me succeed.”
Harris said it was Professor Lynn Simmons, MFA, who inspired her to apply to grad school and gave her “the chance to start a studio practice in Worcester after graduating [from Assumption], where I grew as an artist in my own way,” she said, and then-professor Barbara Beall-Fofana, Ph.D., purchased her first painting and “continues to be my patron and an important and special part of my life today.”
Though Harris continues to work on her forest collaborations, this fall she will be a post-graduate teaching fellow at SMFA at Tufts, where she will be teaching Intro to Oil Painting and Intro to Video Art in the spring. She also plans to apply to different residencies, galleries, and museums, especially ones with an outdoor focus.
“Making art is something I must do, there is no choice,” she said. “To earn this terminal degree in my field and to be recognized for my achievements in Boston always felt like a dream, and now I can say it is a reality.”
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