I find my eyes drawn to one of the more simple and natural looking pieces whist perusing Long Beach’s school art galleries. A photograph of a girl laying on the grass. Except, a dark and looming shadow covers up most of her head and the accompanying ground. The African-American girl wears a white blouse and a diamond cross necklace. Her face is serene, but the darkness over her face seems to evoke a haunting look. I immediately look over to see the piece’s title and artist. The artist’s name is Carla Jay Harris, she is an art student at UCLA, and the work is “Seven-from the retreat series”.
Since I sadly couldn’t interview Carla Jay Harris, I looked her up to find out more about her, her work, and the ideas behind them. Her father was in the military, so she had to move around a lot as a child. That affected her as an artist. Art allows her to experience a kind of permanence. A permanence that she can control and hold on to. Carla Jay Harris’ photography is a result of her exploration of the always moving places around her. She explains in her artist statement that she is “specifically interested in the relationships among environment and identity” as well as social and political environments, and american society’s archetypes- how it marks and identifies individuals.
With that in mind, I have a better idea on what the photograph is supposed to represent. To me, the shadow over her head and on the ground create the disturbing image of a pool of blood. The girl’s face in the photograph is peaceful- as if in a deep sleep or in death. Her white shirt and cross necklace suggest purity. All together, I believe this photo is relating to today’s problems with racial prejudice and the shootings of innocent black people simply because of the color of their skin and the stereotype associated with that. The girl in the picture is black, is laying on the grass with the dark shadow covering her face- much like how certain people’s visions are darkened and clouded when viewing a girl of color-, and she is shown to be pure and peaceful. This piece really intrigued me and got me to think, which is a very important factor to have in art. Overall, I’m glad I chose Carla Jay Harris as my first artist to explore. I respect the ideas behind her work and the subtlety and beauty in her photographs.
Please go check Carla Jay Harris’ artist page out: http://greaterlamfa.com/Glamfa2014/Harris_2014.html
and also her website: http://www.carlajayharris.com/