Harrison D. Walker (b. Huntsville, AL) completed his undergraduate degree in Studio Art at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and received his MFA in Photography at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in Philadelphia, PA. He currently lives in Athens, Georgia where he is continuing his research of photographic materialism. Walker is interested in the visual language created by the limits of the basic chemical components in photography and explores this through abstract forms often containing little to no subject. His work references the otherworldly, questioning our perception of time and our relation to the landscape. Walker has shown at Corey Daniels Gallery, Wells, Maine; Soho Photo, New York, NY; City Hall, Philadelphia, PA; and Pop Gallery, Brisbane, Australia, among others. His work was recently featured in The Hand Magazine and Light Leaked. Works can be found in the Collection at Candela Books + Gallery, Richmond, VA and in The Free Library of Philadelphia Print and Picture Collection. Limited books may be purchased at The Print Center store in Philadelphia, PA.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Portals
2015 – 2017
I find myself working at the boundaries of what I do not understand. My work is driven by photographic materialism, exploring the physical material components that make up photographic objects. The images and objects created reference time, memory, history, and the otherworldly. By working intuitively through the process of search and discovery, I employ the visual alchemy of printmaking, drawing, and photographic materials to create forms that evoke an experiential and emotional viewing. I am interested in abstract forms, departing from the traditionally indexical and referential qualities inherent in photographs and imagery. Searching for forms through found and created imagery, I create visuals that become evocative. The subjects I seek are intangible: the sublime; the emotional; the psychological.
My most recent series, Portals, is a series of a repeated circular form – showing similarities and differences of color and surface made by printmaking and photographic techniques. Similar to a Rorschach test, Portals is intended to explore how the viewer perceives variations in texture, surface, color, image, and time. Portals is also concerned with exploring the unavoidable differences that occur between prints when using hand applied techniques. Shown with the installation is an instruction manual with directions to recreate each print. The manual includes a photographic reference image, needed materials, and the steps necessary to create the print. Most of the prints in this series are stable however, there are certain variations that will continue to change over the course of time.
When and where did Portals begin?
Portals began in the Fall of 2014, but I didn’t know it. At the end of my first semester of grad school, we had a studio clean-up day where I came across these two, heavy, twenty-inch metal disks. Their physicality, unknown origin, and function all interested me. By the end of my second semester I finally did something with them: I made three prints. They were the last three prints I made of my first year of graduate school. They had both photographic emulsion and etching ink on them - experiments. I made them and then, almost immediately, left for Maine to work for the summer. I brought them with me, but only looked at them from time to time - I never actually did anything else with them. When I got back to Philadelphia to finish my second year of grad school, it was the first thing I saw and was my obvious next step. They still excited me. I saw something in them in that moment that really intrigued me. They had such a beautiful and physical, obeject-y quality. And, a thesis show was on the horizon. I took what excited me about them in the first place, experimenting with what I didn’t know, and ran with it. I tried any and every combination I could think of. I initially started thinking about them as binaries. If I tried one thing, then what was the opposite of that – visually and technically. This eventually evolved into a series of 59 prints, and when installed, one of the two disks took the sixtieth “print position.” I had taken notes as I had gone along and after seeing the installation as a whole began to create an instruction manual to accompany the series. It is still only a mock up, but is slowly moving forward. Although I have other things I am working on, this project is still at the forefront of my thought and daily activity.
Where do you see this body of work going?
This project is still in progress, and I foresee the last Portal being Portal 999, which is quite far away from this moment in time. I fear that it may never feel finished. I have just begun printing the edition of the first set, 001-059, and am now revisiting the instructions and attempting to recreate them via my own instruction and memory. They are currently on view (almost in their entirety) at Corey Daniels Gallery in Wells, Maine. I am also working on a second installment, Portals 060-120 and hope to finish this work within the year, for an exhibition in Richmond at Candela Books + Gallery in May 2018. I hope to show Portals either in its entirety or in broken down iterations in other venues too. I’m curious how their varied installation may affect their viewing experience.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
Currently, I would say I’m living the dream. I haven’t found a full-time job in Athens yet, but have been fortunate enough to have sold several prints. This has given me the ability to continue with editioning the project. With that, working on the edition is consuming a lot of my time, in a good way. In general, I try to do something, anything, at least at once per day which helps me sustain a creative flow, although this isn’t always possible. If I’m not physically making something, I like to mine archives, listen to music, and cook. I think sometimes cooking is just as creative an act as art making, and find it can bring motivation to make work.
What’s next for you?
If in 5 years, I was allowed to make work that I still feel engaged with on a daily basis, I will be happy. I would love to open a multi-use space with my partner - part gallery, part studio. I really love the technical side of making and want to run a studio/shop to facilitate the ability for others to also make work.