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5 Questions with Emily Harrison

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ARTIST Emily Harrison doesn’t confine herself to a particular medium.

Instead, she lets her ideas guide her through her art-making process.

Harrison, a double major in fibers and painting at SCAD, is set to graduate next year. You can find her work on Instagram at @emilynola.

We spoke with Harrison last week.

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1. What’s your background in art?

Harrison: I did a little art in high school–I’m at SCAD right now studying fibers. I was mostly traditional painting coming in, and since I’ve gotten here it’s become a lot more conceptually-based. I hardly paint anymore at all. I’m kind of leaning into the fibers thing, somewhere in between, some kind of fine art.

2. Was that a conscious choice to move more into fibers?

Harrison: I don’t think I ever made the conscious choice to break away from painting. I still do it, I’m always craving a paintbrush. But I think that at a certain point, I realized the vehicle for my concepts was not necessarily paint. At some point, I realized the idea was a lot more important to me than the product, so sometimes it doesn’t make sense to paint it. I’d be very happy if my concepts eventually drove me back to painting because I love painting, but right now it’s just taking a different form.

3. What are you working on now?

Harrison: Right now, I’m working on a lot of text-based work. It’s taking different forms though. Right this minute, I’m working on some stuff from [my study abroad trip to] Hong Kong—pillowcases with text sewn into them in Cantonese and English.

SCAD is in the fabric district in Hong Kong, so that was my thing. I was so excited. Most of it was not as much what I was getting from there, but what it did to me. A lot of my art is heavily autobiographical. I think the work ended up being more about my experience of a place than of the place itself. It’s more about what being there made me think about.

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4. What were the things you were thinking about while you were there?

Harrison: Honestly, it was a lot of what happened before I went to Hong Kong. The week before I left, my house burnt down. I think that I ended up processing a lot of that while I was in Hong Kong. Jumping from place to place had me thinking about the concept of house and home. It was very interesting to have all my earthly belongings in a suitcase and be able to pick it up and go to Hong Kong. That’s a lot of what I was processing when I was there, as well as the absolute culture shock that Hong Kong is.

5. What are your plans after graduation?

Harrison: I graduate next spring, hopefully, but seeing as the double major thing is happening I might be here for an extra quarter. I like to keep my options open. I think I’d really like to do curating or take the fibers route, possibly weaving production or display design for a company. That’s if I decide to go the practical route, but we’ll see what happens.

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