Sculptor Christine Harris presents a fascinating portfolio of work that incorporates themes and messages. She talks about her inspiration and technique.
ABI: What is the inspiration for your unusual body of work?
CH: I am inspired by dreams, nature, psychology, and mythology. All of my work unfolds like a story because I start with a group of observations, feelings, and ideas, and I don’t know the end until I am finished. When I have completed a sculpture, I feel like I have integrated all of the conscious and unconscious things in my head into one, and that I have a gained a deeper understanding and more insight into life.
ABI: What does your artwork say about nature, culture and mythology?
CH: Nature, culture/psychology, and mythology are interwoven throughout my work. My appreciation and concern for nature comes through in all my sculptures, especially my concern over what we do to nature, because I believe that what we do to nature, we also do to ourselves.
I try to show this interconnectedness by fusing insects, animals, and humans together to literally show that our fates are tied together. My Bee series fuses bee bodies with human faces and expresses my concern over declining bee populations and Colony Collapse Disorder. References to Kali, the Indian Goddess of destruction and rebirth, allude to the impact bees have on our lives.
Horseshoe Crabs are also in serious decline and I address that in Blue Blood, which depicts a human/horseshoe crab hybrid being milked of her blood.
Fair Warning deals with my concern over sea dragons and the destruction of their ocean habitats and depicts a mermaid-like human/sea dragon hybrid holding a caged canary. The canary is a reference to coal miners’ use of them as an early warning system, their deaths a warning for human miners. Sea dragons, too, can signal an environment that is becoming toxic.
I have been interested comparative mythology and how it explains human psychology for a long time. Comparative mythology suggests that because we are humans with similar psyches, we appreciate and tell the same stories across cultures and time. The stories may have different names, but the themes of good, evil, struggle, fear, love, failure, and triumph remain common.
I find the new cultural myth of alien abduction interesting and I created a version of the Abduction of Persephone that shows Hades as a alien. Dryads, or tree spirits, often appear in my work, combining my love or nature and Greek mythology. A recent piece, Nothing Like the Sun, re-imagines the myth of Clytie, who transformed from a mermaid to a sunflower because of her unrequited love of Apollo, a personification of the sun.
ABI: Tell us about the materials and technique that you use.
CH: My work is made from a combination of epoxy resin and polymer clay over wire armatures. I often incorporate branches into the wire armature, allowing them them to show in the finished piece.
I usually use Super Sculpey for faces in my work, because it allows for a finer detail and does not cure until it is cooked. A two-part resin, either Apoxie Sculpt, Free Form Sculpt, or Magic Sculpt, makes up much of the work.