The exhibit, Cross-Eyed, Two Siblings/Distinct Memories by John and Leah Harper, will be on display March 9 – April 17, 2015 at the Shasta College Art Gallery. A free story telling event will be given by the artists on Thursday, March 19 at 11 a.m. in room 400 on the Shasta College main campus with a reception for the artists from 12 to 2 p.m. in the College Art Gallery, Building 300.
Through writings and artworks, brother and sister, John and Leah Harper have created a magical, humorous exhibit based on differing memories of their early childhood experiences. The exhibit originally opened at the Redding Museum of Art and History in 1998. Since that time it has been received, with tremendous response, at such places as The National John Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA, and The Hermitage Museum in Nashville, TN. For its encore showing in Redding, at Shasta College, the Harpers have created some brand new artworks.
Growing up in a pioneer/native family in northern California, the Harpers did not have much in material terms. Active imaginations and childhood creativity more than made up for the lack of fancy toys, board games, or television. John Harper notes, “we were a very large and religious family sharing an acre of land with our chickens, pigs, turkeys, ducks, and at least one cow not to mention the fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and Mom’s strawberry patch. It seemed to me we had everything,” he writes.
The result is a wonderful multi-dimensional exhibition with whimsical, childlike objects which are likely to evoke childhood memories from the gallery visitors themselves. There’s the family cow that John and his brother Philip “watered” by putting a large garden hose in her mouth; chickens the brothers snuck into bed with them at night; Grandma Harper’s novel poultry-raising practices included putting crippled turkeys in baby walkers; the night Philip almost flew out of the yard while strapped into a real parachute with the help of 80 mile an hour gusting winds, and much more. To keep the feeling of the Harpers’ childhood environment, the artists use as much natural materials as possible. The sculptures are made of such found materials as redbud pods, laminated wood, and thousands of books of burnt matches. Each sculpture is accompanied by text panels giving the siblings differing view of the same event.
John Harper is an artist and Emeritus Professor of Art at Shasta College. Leah Harper is a teacher, artist, puppeteer and musician. She is also a native healer for the Nor-Rel-Muk Wintu tribe.
Shasta College Art Department, Bldg 300
11555 Old Oregon Trail, P.O. Box 496006
Redding, CA 96049-6006
– Press Release