My work dwells in the twilight zone between painting and sculpture. Filled with longing for places that do not actually exist, contradictions flourish with invocations of both the animated and the arrested, the joyful and the staid, the high and the low. Material and processes become sites for fantasy, illusion, and the interplay between flat and not-flat. My most recent work tinkers with scale to produce environments that the viewer can project themselves into as landscapes, even while confronting their qualities of un-nature. Borne from my previous body of painted paper collages, the new installation based works are influenced by techniques common to theatrical painters with materials often used in set design such as latex theatrical paint and muslin. A lineage of shapes and images become a trail of breadcrumbs from one idea to another; previous works including drawings and collages, sometimes many years old are scoured, drawn, painted, cut, and recycled over time, one idea begetting another, endlessly self-generating, encapsulating a romance with materials and processes. 

Related to theatrical spaces, the works in my most recent exhibition Aggregate Optics of Make-A-Do function as sites for an event or performance. Yet, while conspicuously absent of humans, their uncanny existence exerts control over the viewer as actor, prescribing the way they move through space. Both the eye and the body at large are taken over in perceptual ways. Even the act of making the painted canvas works, due to their scale, become performative. They must be stood on while being made, which posits me literally in the painting as the figure in my own landscape. Oscillating between celebratory yet also oppressive, the works create a tension between the joyful liberation of conjuring a new, not-nature and the estranged sense of an unreality that has been manufactured. I am endlessly interested in the idea of a place as a thing and a thing as a place.


Erin Harmon was raised in the suburbs of southern California where the natural desert is sated by hundreds of miles of aqueducts to produce obsessively groomed lawns. After graduating from San Diego State University with a BA in studio art, she earned her MFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design. She has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions around the country including at LAUNCH, Los Angeles; Field Projects, New York; the Target Gallery at the Torpedo Art Center, Alexandria, VA; the Atlanta Artists Center & Gallery, GA; and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, TN. She is a founding member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles.

Erin currently lives in the verdant and fecund Tennessee delta where kudzu and coal sludge can swallow everything in their path. She holds the James F. Ruffin Chair of Art at Rhodes College.