Will Harris Honorably Mentioned

Feb 27–Mar 10, 2020
Online Exhibition

In his series, Evelyn Beckett, photographer Will Harris contemplates the tension of using his camera to capture images of what has already gone missing. Confronting the complexities of his grandmother Evelyn’s dementia, Harris seeks to understand, to empathize and at times to even embrace, the confounding ways his grandmother’s disease altered their relationship, as well as her perception of her own life. Fusing images and memories of the past with moments of his present, Harris creates a new and tender archive. In an altered image of his great aunt from the past, (Jacqueline, 2017) the space where the sitters eyes should be is instead a ghostly void. In a contemporary photograph, (Last Breakfast, 2018) Harris' grandmother Evelyn appears as a blur, hovering in place at a dining room table, a misty swirl of light replacing a solid human form.

For Harris, these images speak to the way his grandmother’s disease, “eroded the landscape of her life”. As Evelyn’s dementia progressed, facts and fictions blended together for her, “ten years ago was now ten minutes ago.” In addition to Harris’ relationship with his grandmother, the disease also chipped away the foundation she provided as the family’s history keeper, as Harris says, “Evelyn Beckett was the gatekeeper, and she left her post.” The melancholy and pain of this transitory moment are evident in Harris’ photographs, yet there is also a resigned acceptance on the part of the artist to accept these changes. Harris uses artifacts left behind after his grandmother’s passing to create almost totemic-like images: a set of dentures becomes sculptural, a wedding veil and flower crown take flight, hovering in mid-air, awaiting their bride. Harris still lives inside the home his grandmother occupied, and he photographs its interiors and exteriors, toying with ideas of aging and fragility. In leaning into the uncertainty and confusion his grandmother’s dementia brought onto his life, Harris makes photographs that feel untethered to specific places in history or time. Honoring his grandmother alongside her illness, not in spite of it, frees up space for Harris to shape a winding narrative that uplifts Evelyn’s memories alongside his own.

Honorably Mentioned is a series of online exhibitions highlighting work from artists chosen as Honorable Mentions for Silver Eye's Fellowship competition. Each year, Silver Eye receives hundreds of talented, innovative submissions of work, but can inevitably only choose two artists for our International and Keystone Awards. This series seeks to feature the six artists selected as Honorable Mentions by our jurors for their outstanding bodies of work. Will Harris was selected as a 2020 Honorable Mention for the Keystone Prize, by juror Dan Leers, Curator of Photography at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, PA.

Participating Artist

  1. Will Harris (b. 1990) is an emerging visual artist whose work deals with memory, history, identity, time, and place. He mostly uses photography as his medium but he also utilizes audio and computer generated images. Will holds his BFA in Photography from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA and completed his MFA in Photography and Integrated Media at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA in 2019.