100 Creatives 2014: Lisa E. Harris, Performing and Visual Artist
Performing and visual artist Lisa E. Harris explored memory and self-perception in her 2012 project, ''No Matter How Hard I Try I Can't Look the Same as I Did Yesterday.'' The project included an exhibition of selfies and head shots, an installation and performance. At the time the Manhattan School of Music graduate told us about a video included in the exhibit. It was a home video of an eight-year-old Harris singing ''Memories'' from Cats.
Courtesy of Lisa Harris
''When I first got the video, I told my friends, 'Oh my gosh, I was so good -- I rocked!' Then we watched the video and I look terrified throughout the song, and that's not my memory at all. I realized the memory of me rocking had been projected onto me. Other people told me I rocked, and so I remembered it that way. My memory of that experience was based on what people had told me, not how I felt at the time.''
The grown-up Harris does, indeed, rock. The vocalist joined pianist Jason Moran, who like Harris is a graduate of Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts as well as the Manhattan School of Music, for A Fats Waller Dance Party with Meshell N'degeocello with performances at the Kennedy Center for the Arts, the San Francisco Jazz Center, Toronto Jazz Festival, Ottawa Jazz Festival and the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
She created Cry of the Third Eye - A New Opera Film, a look at gentrification in Houston's Third Ward. She's currently participating in "Proof," a mixed media exhibit/installation/performance series with Pittsburg-based artist Alisha B. Wormsley at Art League Houston. (Harris and Wormsley are co-founders of Studio Enertia, an artist collective presenting works in sculpture, installations, film, photography, performance and new opera.)
What She Does:"I am a creator, an artist, an observer," Harris tells us. "I trained as an opera singer but now I write and compose various projects and performances in new media formats."
Harris's website says she specializes "in creating original experiences involving experimental opera, film, sound art and guerilla performance tactics." Among her guerrilla performances is "Summertime" from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, (seen above) which Harris performed on the steps of the Palais Garnier National Opera of Paris.
Why She Likes It: "I like to use my imagination. I have an active imagination and I like to try new things and ways to get somewhere."
What Inspires Her: "I get a lot of my inspiration from vivid dreams and nature."
Harris's projects often seem inspired by social justice issues, such as her new opera film Cry of the Third Eye. She says she doesn't purposefully push the envelope with her projects, but she doesn't purposefully try not to either.
If Not This, Then What: "If I wasn't able to be an artist I would probably be a chef. A raw chef. Or a food critic. Or a gracious homemaker that travels a lot."
If Not Here, Then Where: "I find Montreal to be a really interesting city that I think would support the contemporary art forms that I am into."
What's Next: Harris has several projects in the works. "Proof," in the Art League Houston's main gallery, runs through early April. Her collaboration with Jason Moran on A Fats Waller Dance Party with Meshell N'degeocello is ongoing. She has appearances at various music festivals scheduled and is on the voice faculty at Houston's Humphrey's School of Musical Theatre.
"Proof" has an opening reception and artist talk 6 to 9 p.m. February 28. Harris performs live at 7 p.m. on March 14 and there's a screening of the live performance will take place on Friday March 14 with a screening of Hashtag It Doesn't Matter , an experimental video mash-up from the Studio Enertia video archives, at 7 p.m. on April 1. Regular viewing hours for the exhibit are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through April 1. For information, call 713-523-9530 or visit artleaguehouston.org. Admission to all events is free.
More Creatives for 2014
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston
Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist
Heather Gordy, artist
Mark Nasso, comic artist
Marian Szczepanski, novelist
Jonathan Blake, fashion designer
Doni Langlois, interior designer
Kat Denson, dancer
Blame the Comic, comedian
Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist
Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer
Rene Fernandez, painter
Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer