October 6, 2015

Loose Narratives: The Art of ParkeHarrison

Today, I had the opportunity to listen to the two artists talk about their process. Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison collaborate to create haunting and magical realist images. Their work is narrative, and they explore the connections between humans, nature, and technology. Along with Bob's focus is on photography and performance art, Shana brings her experience with choreography and painting.  See this link to view images: http://parkeharrison.com/artistInfo/parkehar/biblio/2.pdf?1968 and https://fstoppers.com/portraits/amazing-surreal-work-robert-shana-parkeharrison-4009

As a writer, I was curious about how they created such deep narratives. Their approach is theatrical, and each image is like a still from a movie. Each series begins with a long period of research and planning. They bring props. They choreograph. They manipulate the photograph to add or subtract color, to blur or obscure elements, and highlight certain things.  This is a slow and painstaking process. Each year, they create about eleven individual works.
 reclamation from Catherine Edelman Gallery on Vimeo.

The protagonist, "Everyman," expresses valiant effort and ineffectual attempts to address environmental damage.  The character often has his back to the viewer, and in this way, brings the viewer toward the world inside the frame. There are many odd elements: a man wears a suit to do things nobody would wear a suit to do. He holds clouds on a string, or he sprouts seedlings from his body. There are machines or laboratory equipment used in curious ways. Veins become roots, and plants are spindly and reaching. Cones are prevalent as are clouds. He attempts to mend the crack in the landscape by stitching with an oversize needle. The narratives strongly connect to the body, and they are piercing.  There is foreboding and magic. All this--such rich narrative--exists in image, object, body, atmosphere.

Artist Talk with Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison (2010) Introduction from Catherine Edelman Gallery on Vimeo.


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