Artist Highlight - Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison
This month in our photography discussions I'd like to take an in depth look at an incredible husband and wife team. Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison have been collaborating ever since their time in graduate school at the University of New Mexico, in which they graduated in 1994. Since then they have published four powerful monographs and have been exhibited in countless exhibitions internationally and are currently represented in over thirty art collections. Their work displays impeccable craft and rich narratives that address the relationships between man, nature, and technology.
"Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison gained instant recognition for their collaborative works shortly after graduate school when they began constructing and choreographing scenarios about mans effect on the landscape. In these stagings, Robert would dress in a black suit and starched white shirt, often referenced as the Everyman, and interact with the land, creating environmental performances. These surreal images addressed issues about the earth and mankind's responsibility to heal the damage he created, and can be seen in their well-regarded first monograph, The Architect's Brother, and in their second book of color images, Counterpoint."Source
"One book cover was all it took and back in 2003 my 'you can do everything with this new digital' bubble was well and truly burst. This was something entirely different. The image in question was Da Vinci's Wings, created by the husband and wife team of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. So far removed from what I understood as photography at the time, their images were a mix of photography, painting and sculpture, as well as performance art. I became fascinated by their work. All I knew about photo manipulation at the time was purely digital (I was at college when the terms 'digital' and 'photography' had become interchangeable). The idea of creating something like this by hand, in a darkroom, was incomprehensible." - Stead, Jonathan. "The Architect's Brother" AG Photographic Journal: Spring 2011
Summoning the Storm
Grey Dawn and Counterpoint
"Something is afoot in these newer series, both in form and content. The emotional tenor hovers between hopeful change and malevolence. The latter lurks just below the surface, or, when visible, takes place impassively. The planet, a more sentient entity, still appears traumatized as in the earlier work, but it is also recuperating. Earth has awakened, and is unwilling to bear just any intervention." - McCusker, Carol. "Perfect imperfect" COLOR magazine
Flying Shoes / Golden Bough
“Our everyman balances on a small circus platform as he breaks from his burden of salvaging a dying world. These unexpected visual moments are not necessarily what the Everyman signed up for. But he partakes in the timelessness of ritual and make-believe. It is a world only slightly removed from his standard tasks. In fact, outside, beyond the velvety curtains and spangled chandeliers, we see the very the landscape he often tirelessly tries to rejuvenate and repair. The stage offers endless narrative possibilities and favors contradictions – hope and despair, desire and failure… to explore the fragile human condition, and the overarching shadow of environmental destruction. Perhaps the only true hope for our world and our human spirit rests in our ability to imagine.”
Thief of Paris
We create works in response to the ever-bleakening relationship linking humans, technology, and nature. These works feature an ambiguous narrative that offers insight into the dilemma posed by science and technology's failed promise to fix our problems, provide explanations, and furnish certainty pertaining to the human condition. Strange scenes of hybridizing forces, swarming elements, and bleeding overabundance portray Nature unleashed by technology and the human hand.
Rich colors and surrealistic imagery merge to reveal the poetic roots of the works on display. The use of color is intentional but abstract; proportion and space are compositional rather than natural; movement is blurred; objects and people juxtaposed as if by chance in a visual improvisation that unfolds choreographically. At once formally arresting and immeasurably loaded with sensations—this work attempts to provide powerful impact both visually and viscerally.
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS, © ROBERT AND SHANA PARKEHARRISON