Spotlight on Artist Andrew Harris
Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. This week we feature a photograph made by Andrew Harris from Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts.
Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. Each week we highlight a work or series created in one of the AP Arts concentrations—AP 2-D Art and Design, 3-D Art and Design, and AP Drawing (the AP Program also offers Art History and Music Theory)—as well as a statement from the artist (and, occasionally, their teacher).
From the first cave paintings to contemporary breakthroughs in virtually reality, art, in all its forms, has been a crucial way for people to process, make sense of, comment on, and grapple with the world around them. After more than a year of life in a pandemic, AP Art students have risen to the challenge of processing and making sense of the challenges—and opportunities—that have come from this perilous time. The work they submitted in their final portfolios is explicitly of the moment. It’s often challenging and provocative, but always insightful, inspiring, and expansive.
This week we feature a photograph made by Andrew Harris from Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts.
Here’s Andrew’s statement on the work:
"MXFAM: MY VOICE. MY POWER.
"MXFam is the affinity group for Black/Latinx members at Middlesex School. At one of our meetings, a member asked the group, “What does MXFam mean to you?” We felt that MXFam is a way to distinctly express ourselves without the social burdens of our non-Black peers. We felt that we are often grouped and ignored at Middlesex as individuals. There is a lot of diversity within the Black/Latinx community.
"Inspired by that meeting, I took portraits of all 59 members of MXFam, including myself. For each image in the project, I worked closely with the subject to identify how they wanted to individually portray and celebrate their Blackness. These personality shots aimed to clearly display the variety of experiences, cultures, and identities that make up the silent minority of Middlesex. The images celebrated each subject individually while also encouraging the viewer to question why these individuals’ stories are frequently marginalized. Along with the portraits, I asked members of MXFam to write short bios expressing what it means to be Black/Latinx for them. I exhibited the images along with bios in our school's gallery throughout Black History Month that year.
"It has been eight years since I left Liberia. I remember I had a neighbor who I spent the days with. I remember we danced naked in the rain, shot water guns under the sun, and laughed endlessly under the stars. I remember promising him that one day I’ll take him to America, or “small heaven” as we called it. But I don’t remember telling him goodbye when I left. I don’t remember his name, I don’t remember his voice and I don’t remember his face. He’s one of the many things I’ve forgotten in my eight years of assimilating to the U.S. I’ve lost my culture and I’ve lost my voice. But I hope, with this project, I can yell into the sky the guilt I feel, letting the wind carry my voice across 4,000 miles of water, to a place I once called home and let a long-lost friend know. I have started my search for our culture. I have started a search for my voice."
And here are a few other works from Andrew’s portfolio:
For this series of photographs, I worked closely with subjects to identity how they want to portray and celebrate their Blackness.
Since I attend boarding school, I am rarely with my little sister. When I am home, we go to the park. While I was shooting trees, my sister waited calmly behind me, perfectly composed, to go to the park.
My friend, Astrid Collins, modeled and helped me launch into fashion photography with this image. Inspired by various fashion photographers, Astrid and I went thrifting outfi ts for pre-production.
Student statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.