Daesha Devón Harris

My Soul Has Grown Deep Like the Rivers

June 7–July 1, 2018

Artist talk: Thursday, June 7, 5:00 PM

“This series is about the Black experience that is deeply connected to the landscape, the idea of home, and its intersections with water. Water becomes symbolic of Freedom, whether it is in this world or the next, and at the same time is evidence of social and cultural boundaries. Water has to be crossed on the journey to Freedom.”

My Soul Has Grown Deep Like the Rivers is a series of portraits inspired by African American folklore, slave narratives, and Harlem Renaissance poetry. Through this work, Daesha Devón Harris examines current and historical racial ideologies in this country while highlighting Black Americans’ ongoing struggle for freedom. The artist begins her process with extensive research, which includes collecting stories, imagery, and other memorabilia. She then makes transparencies of vintage cartes de visite and cabinet card portraits she has collected and places them in water alongside rocks and flora to create aquatic still lifes. This series is photographed in her hometown of Saratoga Springs and the surrounding region, at sites chosen for their personal or historical significance. The final prints are encased in wooden shadow boxes alongside small keepsakes and covered with etched glass, creating additional visual and narrative layers through which to view Harris’s already complex photographic imagery. On display alongside these framed photographs are images printed on silk from One More River to Cross, another of the artist’s series that connects water both symbolically and historically with the path to freedom.

Daesha Devón Harris is a Saratoga Springs, New York native, artist, and photographer who has spent time in Buffalo, NY and San Francisco, CA. Both her multi-cultural family and the unexpected death of her young father have greatly shaped her life. She holds a BFA in Studio Art from the College Of Saint Rose and a MFA in Visual Art from The University at Buffalo. Harris has been featured in numerous exhibitions in New York State, Philadelphia, PA, Louisville, CO, and beyond. 

My Soul Has Grown Deep Like the Rivers is a 2018 En Foco Fellowship Prize Exhibition generously supported by The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation/Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer.