Aluminum and illusion interplay in Harris’ art
Scott Harris has developed a unique kind of art. Using sheets of aluminum, he sands them with curves and swirls, creating scuffs that give a surreal look of depth and display of reflected light. On this aluminum he writes in black cursive words and phrases that talk about the meaning of the art. Then using oils he paints figures, angels and scenery starting with obscure blobs of form and then slowly adding detail as layers dry.
The result is a stunning image that appears to leap from the metallic canvas. Upon close viewing, delicate patterns and details make up the shades and colors of the pieces. As you back away from the piece the image seems to breathe as if it is coming to life. The swirls in the aluminum pick up any available light creating a background that looks as if you could reach your hand into it. The deeper the background begins to appear the further the painted image seems to project, creating a three-dimensional perspective.
Harris works out of his studio at Lyndon Street Artworks, sharing space with Artworks founder Eric Beerbower. There he keeps pieces of glass thickly-laden with colorful oils on a worktable along with a few pieces of chalk and some random snapshots of people he uses as models for his figures. A large, wooden easel with stray brushmarks sits next to the table.
Harris is a 2002 graduate of Brevard University in Brevard, NC where he majored in art. He originally planned on going to school for architecture before meeting a Brevard University board member who encouraged him to apply. There he concentrated on painting and sculpture and finished his first painting while in college. It was that of a crushed tin can given to him as a class assignment. From there he began painting landscapes as he developed his skills.
While in college Harris met Pastor Whitman Toland, the pastor of a church in Asheville who got him interested in church. Harris began helping out at the church, sculpting a podium and helping design the staging area.
After college Harris moved to Atlanta, Ga where his sister lived. As he developed his art he had the opportunity to meet painter Thomas Arvid, who remains a mentor to Harris. While living in Atlanta, Harris also worked at a restaurant, painting in the dining hall as patrons enjoyed their meals. Once, he says, he left his painting alone for a moment to take a break. When he came back he found a diner painting on his painting. Apparently, he says, the person thought that anyone could get up and paint during the meal.
It was also in Atlanta that Harris came up with the idea of painting on aluminum. He wanted to give his canvas paintings depth by mounting them on curved boards, but the idea wasn’t working.
Then, on a trip to Home Depot to find flexible materials, Harris discovered rolls of aluminum. Still, his idea for mounting the canvases was not working, and one day he thought, ‘why not paint on the metal?’ He sanded in to give it some tooth for the paint to grip and soon discovered how the scratches picked up the light. He started searching for sheets of aluminum to make larger works and slowly learned what shapes worked best for picking up light when he sanded the metal. He also refined his painting, using thinner amounts and letting the oils dry between layers.
The busy pace of Atlanta soon took its toll and at the encouragement of pastor Arvid Harris decided to move to Greensboro. The pastor was starting a new church in Greensboro, The Rock of Greensboro, and Harris once again helped with designs for the podium and stage.
Harris waits tables at a local restaurant to make ends meet while he pursues his love of art. Along with other artwork by Lyndon Street artists, Harris has two pieces on display at Solaris Tapas Restaurant and Bar. Harris continues to work as a sculptor as well as a painter.