Natural Force

Gods of fire have made their appearances in cultures throughout history. They have been chosen to represent cut gemstones on repurposed media. The work fits into the Ecocentric Art Movement by bringing materials back to life. A reclaimed printed background disappears behind opaque oil paint rendering and reappears through transparent acrylic wash. Eternal flames re-emerge in the facets of jewels which reflect and transfix.


Ecocentric: Repurposing Media

Harper paints cut gemstones on reclaimed materials. What begins as refuse is repurposed, transforming base materials into noble objects. Diverse mediums such as discarded tablecloths, wallpaper, graphic posters, upholstery fabric, paintings, canvases, commercial art, building and metal scraps are surface medium. By reforming and re-employing, the work fits into the Ecocentric Art Movement through bringing materials back to life. Harper synthesizes historical and contemporary styles by mixing the classical tradition of still-life painting with modernism.


Bio

S. P. Harper studied art at the American University in Paris, France, University of Southern California (BFA) and ArtCenter in Pasadena, California. After spending 12 years in New York, Harper returned to Los Angeles to teach art and concentrate on Ecocentic Art.

Shows

2016

Chaos Theory, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana

Ground Floor-Chelsea, Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York

Big, Little and Open, Santa Barbara Art Guild, Santa Barbara

Night on Broadway Art Share LA Pop-up Gallery, Arts District, Los Angeles

Georgia Galleria, Vallejo, California

Out There, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association

Beyond the Lines Art Show, Imperial Street, Arts District, Los Angeles

Distinctive Voices, Santa Monica Art Studios, Santa Monica

Benefit Auction, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association

2015

All Media, Chico Art Center, Chico, California

101 Contemporary Artists, Artvoices Art Books

Still Life, Linus Gallery, Pasadena, California

The Peace Project, The Whole 9 Gallery, Culver City, California

Out There, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association

ArtSlant Prize Showcase, Los Angeles, California

Benefit Auction, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association

2014

Small Time, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association

Eliciting desire. What is it? Who creates it?

 

Harper answers with images of cut gems on recycled materials. What begins as a bit of refuse is repurposed to become something of value, and therefore desirable. Transforming base materials into noble objects, the artist becomes an alchemist, questioning the ontology of art.

 

Focusing on the intersection of rummage rubbish and object d’art, showing how materials change from valuable to worthless and back to valuable again, the work explores layers and levels of reality. The surface first layer is a discarded scrap, formerly a door, made from wood, which originates from a tree. A photograph from a jewelry catalogue taken of a precious stone instigates the gem painting. Thus, the object circle of life is complete.

 

Desire is predicated on making choices. Choice is made by identification and understanding. The paintings combine two colors to represent a place, time or memory. As sounds and smells take the listener back to a place and time, so too does color. Color theory creates style and personality, shapes selection and ultimately brings desire.

 

Several layers are revealed in each depiction. An existing printed background partially disappears behind an acrylic wash as well as disappearing all together behind opaque oil paint rendering. Background recycled patterns appear and disappear through the transparent and reflective facets in the jewels. Harper synthesizes historical and contemporary styles, taking the classical traditions of still-life painting and filtering them through the lens of modernist practice.

 

Diverse mediums such as wall lath and plaster rubble, door composite fragments, tablecloths, graphic posters, upholstery fabric, discarded canvases, commercial art and metal scraps are surface materials improved by alteration. By reforming and re-employing, the work fits into the Ecocentric Art Movement to reduce, reuse and recycle. Indeed, every piece recasts formerly worthless material and brings it back to life.

Natural Force

Gods of fire have made their appearances in cultures throughout history. They have been chosen to represent painted gemstones on repurposed media. The work fits into the Ecocentric art (aka Neo Materialism) by bringing materials back to life. A reclaimed printed background disappears behind opaque oil paint rendering and reappears through transparent acrylic wash. Eternal flames re-emerge in the facets of jewels which reflect and transfix.


Ecocentric: Repurposing Media

Harper paints and sculptes gemstones with reclaimed materials. What begins as refuse is repurposed, transforming base materials into noble objects. Diverse mediums such as discarded tablecloth, wallpaper, curtain, graphic poster, upholstery fabric, painting, canvas, lath & plaster, building and metal scrap are surface media. By reforming and re-employing, the work fits into the Ecocentric art (aka Neo Materialsm) to reduce, re-use and up-cycle. Harper synthesizes historical and contemporary styles by mixing the classical tradition of still-life painting with modernism.


Bio

S. P. Harper studied art at the American University in Paris, France with Paul Jenkins, USC Roski School of Fine Arts (BFA) and ArtCenter in Pasadena, California. After spending 12 years in New York City, Harper returned to Los Angeles to teach art and concentrate on Ecocentic art. Harper’s grandfather, Archibald Picking, was a diamantaire (diamond cutter) before becoming a conductor for Pacific Electric Red Cars.


Education

American University in Paris, France
University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Art, Los Angeles (BFA)

ArtCenter, Pasadena, California

  

  

Exhibitions


2019

Shelter “Seven Million Karats”, Audubon Center at Debs Park, Los Angeles, California

Wish You Were Here, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, New York

Imagine: A Visual Arts Exhibit, Platt Borstein Gallery, AJU, Bel-Air, California

Bouquett, bG Gallery, Santa Monica, California

Earth Recycle, Downey Civic Art Center, Downey, California


2018

Odyssey II, TAM: Torrence Art Museum, Torrence, California

Remembrance, Autry Historic Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, California

One Hundred Vibrant Artists, Neutra Institute Museum, Silverlake, California

Art Expo Yerevan, Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan, Armenia, curated by Narine Isajanyan

Silence Breakers, Ely Center of Contemporary Art, New Haven, Connecticut

Works on Paper, Brand Library & Art Center, Glendale, California

Imagine: A Visual Arts Exhibit, Platt and Borstein Gallery, AJU, Bel-Air, California

Bunker Opens Doors, Long Hall Art Gallery, West Hollywood, California, juried by Peter Frank

Anything Goes, Atrium Gallery, County Government Center, Ventura, California

L.A. Fashion Week/Art Hearts Fashion, Six Summit Gallery, Ivoryton, Connecticut

Personal Vacation, Gallery 825, LAAA, juried by Chris Davies

Round, bG Gallery, Santa Monica, California

CA Artist: Emerging Artists of California, Open Mind Art Space, Santa Monica, California

Seeing Red, One One Six Two, Los Angeles, California, curated by Colette von Haus

 

2017

MOAH: Cedar Cedarfest, Museum of Art & History, Lancaster, California

Gods of Fire, Living Room Gallery, W Hotel Hollywood, Hollywood

Summer Exhibition / Endless Summer, AC Gallery, Hollywood, California

It Takes A Village, CA / 101, Redondo Beach, California

Ed Moses, We Are Coming For You, ShockBoxx Projects Gallery, Hermosa Beach, California

Semi-Precious, Art Share L.A. Gallery, Arts District, Los Angeles

Abstract ll, Beyond the Lines Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica

Imagine: A Visual Arts Exhibit, Platt and Borstein Gallery, Los Angeles

Gods of Fire, Art Share L.A., Groundwork Coffee Company, Hollywood

Contemporary Art / ipsō ˈfaktō, Industrial Gallery of Art, North Hollywood

What Does DTLA Mean To You?, Angels City Brewery, Arts District, Los Angeles

Out There, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association, juried by William Escalera & Francisco George

CASA of Los Angeles Charity Art Show, Arts District, Los Angeles

HoldYou Foundation Charity Art Auction, Los Angeles, California


2016

Chaos Theory, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana

Ground Floor-Chelsea, Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, NY, curated by Ruthie Tucker

Big, Little and Open, Santa Barbara Art Guild, juried by Rafael Perea de la Cabada

On an Odd Night, TAG Gallery Bergamot Station, Santa Monica

Perimeter Gallery Show, Art Share L.A., Arts District, Los Angeles

Night on Broadway Art Share LA Pop-up Gallery, Arts District, Los Angeles

Georgia Galleria, Vallejo, California, curated by Daisy Villanueva

Out There, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association, juried by William Escalera & Francisco George

Distinctive Voices, Santa Monica Art Studios, Santa Monica

OneArt: Artists for a Cure, Arena 1 Gallery, Santa Monica


2015

All Media, Chico Art Center, Chico, California, curated by Klint Kettell

Still Life, Linus Gallery, Pasadena, California

The Peace Project, The Whole 9 Gallery, Culver City, California

Out There, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association, juried by William Escalera & Francisco George


2014

Small Time, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association, juried by Cris McCall

Out There, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association, juried by William Escalera & Francisco George

Benefit Auction, Gallery 825, Los Angeles Artist Association

   

 

Publications

Sunday Studio: S. P. Harper, Create! Magazine

https://createmagazine.com/read/2019/7/17/studio-sunday-susan-harper

 

101 Contemporary Artists, Artvoices Art Books, edited by Terrence Sanders

  

Circle Quarterly Art Review Magazine, London, UK

  

4x4 Gallery: S. P. Harper, ArtCenter Dot Magazine, written by Solvej Schou, curated by Winnie Li

http://www.artcenter.edu/connect/dot-magazine/articles/4x4-fall-2018.html   

  

Art & Life With S. P. Harper, SD Voyager Magazine

http://sdvoyager.com/interview/art-life-s-p-harper/

  

Los Angeles Art Association Book Volume 2

https://www.laaa.org/s-p-harper?rq=s.%20p.%20harper  

   

 

Experience

2015-present Art Professor, American Jewish University, Los Angeles

2015-present Art Lecturer, LA Guest Artist Series, David Valentine

2015-present Art Professor, Alexander Hamilton & Los Angeles High School

2011-present Art Professor, Belmont Retirement Community, Los Angeles

2001-2009 Assistant Art Professor, Roscomare Road School, Los Angeles

   

  

Awards

Certificate of Achievement "Water Works" Huntington Beach Art Center, California

Artavita Certificate of Excellence, Despina Tunberg, Santa Barbara, California

ArtSlant Prize Showcase, Los Angeles, California

Artvoices Magazine 10th Anniversary Gallery Guide featured artist

Special Recognition Category, Light, Space & Time Online Art Gallery, John R. Math

  

 

Collections 

In the collections of Mandy and Cliff Einstein, Glorya Kaufman, TAM: Torrance Art Museum, South Bay Contemporary Gallery, Sharon Lane and Dr. Arpee F. Yeretzian
   

  

 

 

 S. P. Harper interview with Nicholas Laskin of ArtCenter:  

ArtCenter alumni S. P. Harper now channels her passion for sustainability through the art of painting jewels and gemstones on reclaimed and repurposed materials. Read more about her creative journey.

 

Tell us about your career path after graduating from ArtCenter. What do you do now?

When I graduated from ArtCenter, L.A. was not a cultural mecca in the way that it is today. It was also a somewhat chauvinistic scene, particularly in the 1980’s. Being  a woman with artistic aspirations, I had to work harder than just about everybody else in the room. I knew it was going to be difficult – I just didn’t quite know how difficult it was going to be.

 

I wanted to be taken seriously. I had a really, really good portfolio at my disposal – why shouldn’t someone hire me? When I moved to New York post-grad, I found the primary thing I was looking for: work. I subletted a ground-level studio apartment where the rent was reasonable. At the time, I was just exploring the city and taking it all in – I still didn’t have any concept of what I was going to paint.

 

I knew I wanted to work with people – the idea of a solitary creative life never made sense. I craved assignments and thrived off of deadlines. And so I began doing odd trompe l’oeil, illustration and design gigs: a little here, a little there.

 

In hindsight, this exploratory phase was really good for me. It gave me a sense of who I wanted to become. I was hanging out in the new, gentrified part of SoHo: mixing it up, living in the moment, and trying to meet the right people. I would hang out at Studio 54, the Mud Club, and many other famous New York haunts. Julian Schnabel was selling plate paintings at Mary Boone Gallery for around $3000. When I look back on it, these were some of the greatest and most creatively crucial years of my life.

 

The ‘90’s was when I moved back to L.A. I started doing freelance design work. I married a musical composer, who remains my partner to this day. Together, we bought a beautiful mid-century modern place that we still live in to this day. That house became another kind of project. The two of us would scour Craigslist or go to estate sales, looking for the perfect items with which we could decorate our new home. We found appropriate and historically correct pieces.

 

It was this mission that started me on my path to being eco-centric, in addition to placing an emphasis on recycling, and using reusable materials as the basis for my art. When I had a daughter in elementary school, I would collect all of her friend’s clothes and tie-dye them. Then, I would of sell them back to the school if they were doing a fundraiser benefit.

 

All of this got me to thinking: What drives me? What is my reason for being here? Am I getting closer to uncovering a kind of primal artistic truth? I guess throughout all of this, I’ve found my focus. It’s something that I’m both passionate about and skilled at, that also happens to be something that helps the planet on a larger scale.

 

That was where the idea came from to paint gemstones on recycled materials came from– it was the product of thirty-five years of trying to find myself.

 

Is there one ArtCenter alum who is doing work that you particularly admire?

I’m a fan of Jorge Pardo (BFA 88). His work has a real sense of humor, and a color and vibrancy that I admire. Is it Furniture? Design? Architecture? Art?

Jennifer Steinkamp (MFA 91) is another one. Her work with jewelry partially inspired the environmentally-influenced work I went on to do (painting gemstones on repurposed materials).

 

 

  

   
Eliciting desire. What is it? Who creates it?

 

Harper answers with images of gemstones on recycled materials. What begins as a bit of refuse is repurposed to become something of value, and therefore desirable. Transforming base materials into noble objects, the artist becomes an alchemist, questioning the ontology of art.

 

Focusing on the intersection of rummage rubbish and object d’art, showing how materials change from valuable to worthless and back to valuable again, the work explores layers and levels of reality. The surface first layer is a discarded scrap, formerly a door, made from wood, which originates from a tree. A photograph from a jewelry catalogue taken of a precious stone instigates the gem painting. Thus, the object circle of life is complete.

 

Desire is predicated on making choices. Choice is made by identification and understanding. The paintings combine two colors to represent a place, time or memory. As sounds and smells take the listener back to a place and time, so too does color. Color theory creates style and personality, shapes selection and ultimately brings desire.

 

Several layers are revealed in each depiction. An existing printed background partially disappears behind an acrylic wash as well as disappearing all together behind opaque oil paint rendering. Background recycled patterns appear and disappear through the transparent and reflective facets in the jewels. Harper synthesizes historical and contemporary styles, taking the classical traditions of still-life painting and filtering them through the lens of modernist practice.

 

Diverse mediums such as wall lath and plaster rubble, door composite fragments, tablecloths, graphic posters, upholstery fabric, discarded canvases, commercial art and metal scraps are surface materials improved by alteration. By reforming and re-employing, the work fits into the Ecocentric Art Movement (aka Neo Materialism) to reduce, reuse and upcycle. Indeed, every piece recasts formerly worthless material and brings it back to life.