James Oliver Gallery presents:
PERIOD PIECES, works by Cheryl Harper
Join us Thursday, November 9th from 6-8 PM for the Period Pieces Artist Talk! Learn more about Cheryl Harpers socio-political sculptures and mixed media works straight from the source. We hope to see you there!
Cheryl Harper's Artist Statement
Cheryl Harper, an artist living on the Main Line, is known for her social and political works that invite the viewer to consider their own perspectives. Harper reflects on several international and national events, including the subject she has opined since 2004, the American presidency. Every four years Harper makes what she calls
a “Ballot Box.” Her first was the contest between George Bush and John Kerry, when she captured the moments in the campaign that over time are forgotten. On five surfaces of a ceramic box, she documents the contest, up to the moment of the election. For Ballot Box 2016, she collected news stories beginning at the party conventions though election eve, to select the key elements that in hindsight, formed and persuaded the American public in its
selection of a leader. Since she started the Ballot Box series, she’s noted changes candidate’s use of technology. This time it was Twitter and other social media.
Harper also includes new sculptures of President Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and Melania (the FLOTUS). She is particularly interested in women in the presidential circle, dating back to Condoleezza Rice, and a few Hillary Clintons. In this presidency, it is Ivanka with mysterious motives. Usually, the females take the form of a sphinx. Until a woman wins the presidency, Harper intends to use the metaphor that questions why and when this will occur. Hillary Bride Doll from 2008, considers why she seemed poised to capture her goal and why it evaded her. Harper’s 2008 piece about Al Gore, is shown in commemoration of his update of the film “An Inconvenient Truth.” The sculptures often continue their resonance as the lives of her selected subjects unfold. Ivanka also takes form referencing her purse and shoe businesses. Melania is noted for her embrace of $35,000.00 Hermes Birkin handbags as perfect carryalls for the FLOTUS on the go.
Harper also considers other social issues such as the American fatal fascination with guns (Sitting Ducks), terrorism (Soft Targets Wreath), and Anti-Semitism (Je suis, Je suis I and II). Sitting Ducks, is a large work on Tyvek inspired by a Batman costumed mass murderer in a suburban multiplex movie theater. Another is a mixed media sculpture Soft Targets Wreath, homage to people that were in the wrong place at the wrong time. At a time when tourism is fraught with risk, she questions the deeper nature of these incidents. Je suis, je suis I and II are visual ponderings of antisemitism in Europe, specifically France, where terrorists specifically target Jewish businesses and schools, as it rears its head in places closer to
home in Charlottesville.
Harper’s personal family history is the source of a work about the tradition of the bride in America (also referenced in Hillary Bride Doll). An installation work titled, “Passages” incorporates clothing and objects belonging to four generations of Harper brides including
Dorothy Tait Gray, Pamela Gray Harper, Cheryl Rosenbaum Harper, and recently married Lena Harper. In in addition to silver plate, china, and other accouterments related to the evolution of day-to-day aspirations. Harper imagined Dorothy Gray, a Smith College
student when women won the right to vote, wearing a “Votes for Women” sash, and Lena’s
involvement in the Hillary Clinton campaign.
James Oliver Gallery presents: