Matthew Angelo Harrison is the newest contributor to the Field Station series in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU. His work, which has been on display since Oct. 13, will call The Broad Art Museum home until Nov. 25.
On Tuesday night, Harrison spoke at the museum about the nature of his work.
As a Detroit based artist, Harrison’s work engages with the concept of the ever-changing nature of identity in the modern world.
Working between the lines of anthropology, cultural theory, engineering and computer sciences, Harrison works to bridge the gap of disparate materials and processes to make his work both familiar and otherworldly.
In the process of shaping his work, Harrison said that technology, along with race and identity, are key elements into creating his art.
“What I try to do in my work is make them into key components that can be layered together at any moment in different ways, so you can have this freedom from addressing specific sociopolitical or problematic conditions that exist in the world," Harrison said.
In his exhibition now on display, Harrison ties in elements that he has often used in the past. The use of skeletal remains of animals originating in West Africa, along with artifacts from the same region, are present in his work. By incorporating these African objects with automotive parts, Harrison is connecting the bridge between ancestry and the labor associated with the auto industry.
The connection between labor and the African artifacts is on display via Harrison’s use of technology. He uses a 3-D printer to make the molds to hold the African artifacts, and often times the molds resemble automotive parts.
By encapsulating these African artifacts in automotive parts, Harrison aims to show how the black community has always been tied to labor markets.
When collecting the artifacts, Harrison always plays close attention to what he feels he is allowed to use, and what he is not allowed to use.
“I don’t use objects that are for ritual purposes. I use things intended for the art market, so meaning the secondary economy created through colonial means,” Harrison said.
Many of his art pieces are meant to be disturbing, often depicting mutilation of the “black body."
“It’s all part of the process of creating this conversation about black bodies without actually using a black body in the work," he said.
Field Station is a series of exhibitions designed to give artists a versatile space to carry out their work. The previous Field Station exhibition housed work from Scott Hocking, another Detroit-based artist, which was on display from Early August to the end of September.
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