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Zeal Harris, Visual Artist & Owner
Art Studio Zeal
PO. Box 45553
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Zeal Harris with Joan Rivers at Wallspace Art Gallery.
Descriptions of my art are often populated with words such as very colorful, funny, deep, and full of life. Although I have an MFA in Studio Art, and may work has a critical and academic component, the look of my work can be described as faux-naïve, political cartooney, or urban folk arty.
Almost always, my work is based on contemporary real life stories or events experienced in daily life. Under the surface, these micro-narratives offer socio-political commentary about a range of larger issues that often have to do with the layered experiences of race, class, gender, and sexuality. The stories may be directly autobiographical or they may be illustrations of personally collected oral narratives. The attitude is both distinctly Black Feminist and uniquely zealous. It is always my intention move the viewer to have an emotional experience with the work. Simultaneously, I like to think of myself as having the liminal role of documentarian and anthropologist.
Artists and genres that inspire the aesthetic of my work are eclectic. However, with respect to the look of my work, the bulk of inspiration comes from contemporary political cartoons, southern African-American folk art, and Harlem Renaissance narrative painters. When I was a teenager, I drew portraits and caricatures at Busch Gardens Amusement Park in Williamsburg, Virginia. This experience also has a profound impact of my work.
As a young adult, I attempted to become a playwright and screenwriter. The urge to tell stories with black characters that move through space and time is probably a main factor in my experimentation with the “scrolling” format of panels that I use in many works. In the overall body of my work, the theatricalities of my upbringing, meet with the cinematic influences that are ever-reeling in Los Angeles.