After living and working in and around Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood for nearly fifty years, the powerful and politically-tuned work of the artist Eddie Harris will be exhibited to the public for the first time at Intuit. This exhibition will explore both the breadth and depth of Harris’ work, in media and subject matter, touching on themes including Black power, portrayals of beauty and strength, the family, and the aesthetics of activism in the form of his bas-relief sculptures, paintings and drawings, and carved and painted objects.
Largely self-taught, Harris draws from memories of picking cotton during a childhood in Arkansas to his experience with the years of rage and the Black Panthers in Chicago, using found and salvaged materials to tell his personal narrative of the very public struggle for Black empowerment. Formally strong, with a painstaking attention to craftsmanship and gesture, his entire artistic practice shows a long dedication to both the aesthetic and cultural concerns of his life across several decades and presents a private and public address of Black power and heart.
Drawing from an uncatalogued body of work that numbers in the hundreds of pieces, this exhibition, with its selection of thirty-two works, presents a glimpse into the life and work of Harris. Speaking about his ability to carve notoriously-unwieldy pine, Harris has said, “The wood’s got to have a hard heart. You can tell if it does, and if that pine has a hard heart, using the tools I made, you can carve it.” Following the wisdom of Harris, the exhibition highlights not only the fragility and strength, but also the empathy, anger, and inventiveness displayed by Harris to tirelessly transform his life experiences into monumental works of art.