Jonathan Harris expresses Black pain and love through art

Jonathan Harris expresses Black pain and love through art
Photo courtesy of Kristen Lynnae

Who inspired you to pursue visual arts?

Henry Harper inspired me to pursue my art and to grow as an artist. Harper is co-founder of The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club and one of the first times I went to the Breakfast Club, he challenged me to move away from creating celebrity art and to dig deep within myself to tell my own story. That single conversation changed everything. None of my teachers in art school gave me that unconventional wisdom or showed me that it was possible to be an artist, for real, and make it into a profession.

What has changed drastically from when you first started creating?

The content of my art is what has changed the most since I first started. I challenged myself to be more creative and not paint to please people and to sell. Now the work is not only therapeutic, but it’s more about the message — focusing on the Black experience in America including Black love, pain, unaddressed questions, emotions and the faith we need to persevere.

What’s next for you?

I have a show in November featuring Crystal Starks-Webb, Terrell Anglin, and myself. I’ve curated the exhibition, so I’m excited to be able to present these new artists who will be exhibiting their work for the first time. The show, which is called TRIPTYCH: Stronger Together, offers an introspective journey into our thoughts on the world, love, childhood, adulthood, and history. TRIPTYCH opens at Irwin House Gallery on Friday, Nov. 5 from 5-9 pm.

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