Featured Artist: Lauralee K. Harris

LauraLee K. Harris: A Deeper Look Inside

For the month of September, we are please to feature the work of Toronto-based visual artist Lauralee Harris.

Born in Toronto in 1956, Harris drew and painted from the time she could hold implements. Growing up, she watched her mother and grandmother draw and paint in their respective styles encouraged her to create. Her father also dabbled in design, and so their's was a household of many expressions, encouraging her development into the arts. Her family had a nomadic lifestyle, moving her many times, she found a constancy in the challenging art programs provided by each school. The various art instructors and varying media exposed her to soapstone, sculpture, batiking, copper enameling, and many styles. By the time she was 18, she had moved 20 times. This peripatetic lifestyle also sent her to Fort Lauderdale Florida in the seventies, where her father took her to private art lessons. It was a great introduction to a veritable plethora of media providing a base for her to explore new untried realms.

After meeting her husband in the early eighties, he encouraged her to study art further. He became her muse and her greatest supporter, later making her frames, helping her to mount shows and allowing her to quit her programming job so she could focus on her children and develop her art. Harris began painting portraits in oils, moved into acrylics, explored a diverse range of subject matter before going to art schools. She attended the Forest Hill Art School, The Art Gallery of Ontario and finished her studies at the Ontario College of Art and Design. It was during this period she explored woodcarving, collage, and other traditional and non-traditional media, finding an aptitude to develop various new media. In 1988 she had her first solo exhibition of her work.. In 1993 she was nominated, as an Honour Student at the Ontario College of Art and Design, in a juried exhibition.

It was in 1994, she would meet an Uncle that would change the course of her life and her art. Adopted at the age of two, he offered the part of her missing past, 60 years later traveling from British Columbia. This would become the catalyst for inner reflection, much needed at a time of departure in her work. It would seem, through her Uncle's search for his roots, he had found theirs as well. Her "French" Grandfather was also Sioux, Cree, Chippewyan, Ojibwe and Montagnais; the part of her heritage that had been hidden. It was not an easy time to be Native, and racism forced a lot of Native people into hiding to protect their children from the scars of racism. Harris would soon learn, that this Native experience was not unique and the sadness and goodness of her people inspired the reason for her work. Even though her grandmother had tried to get her son back when he was four, watching from a room he was forced to stay in, his last view of his mother would be, to see her walk away in the rain, forever.

Her Grandmother never spoke of her first born, took this sad secret to her grave, grieving into poems, later found by Harris' Mother who didn't quite know who her mother grieved for. Harris' Uncle was just eight years too late, to ever see his Mother again, as she passed on in 1986. This was the catalyst that focused a large body of unique work that would become a compilation of her life returning to the teachings, a work that walked lock step with her own personal growth, back to her traditions and learning the ways of respect, honour, truth, the history, and many of the traditional teachings of the Earth.

To learn more about LauraLee's work, visit her profile here.

User login

Member Forum Posts

  • I just wanted to thank ANDPVA for the opportunity you gave me to showcase my crafts and jewelllery at the Saturday Market. I met some really great people, especially other artists and made some new friends. Keep up the good work! Emilie Corbiere

  • Hi Shandra,

     I just wanted to thank ANDPVA for todays terrific workshop on publishing with Kateri. I learned so much and will put this new information to good use.

    Chi Miigwech!!!

    Emilie Corbiere

    Author, artist and storyteller

News & Events

  • Mark Tuesday, December 21st 6pm on your social calendar and come to the 21st Annual Kensington Market Festival of Lights to see the SKYWOMAN Shadow Puppet Performance by andpva's Indigenous Youth Leadership Team

  • andpva opens our Studio 171 doors 8am-noon alongside the Saturday Wychwood Barns Farmer's Market - Join us Dec 11 & 18 in time for holiday shopping!

  • We are delighted to have
    been invited to partner with SLOW FOOD TORONTO and recruit Indigenous
    musicians and artists to participate in the SLOW FOOD TORONTO
    fundraising event this Friday, December 10th, 2010 6pm-9pm. If you social calendar is not too full, come on out
    and join this delicious celebration.

  • The 7th Annual CIT Variety Showcase will be at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, ., on December 10, 2010,
    with performances scheduled to start at 7 pm and run through to
    9:30pm.  The evening is by donation and all are invited to attend.