Erol Scott Harris USA, b. 1989


Erol Scott Harris is a multidisciplinary conceptual artist who mobilizes autobiographical folklore to instigate material manifestations of spirit.

For Harris, art is an arena in which to uncover how he can work with the body. Motivated variously by his connection to the narratives of his past and his desire to break free from them, he constructs situations in his studio that contain both structure and potentialities. Outcomes are resolved as Harris performs intuitively within the situation with his physical form.

“I feel that the landscape occupies the body as much as the body occupies the landscape,” Harris says. “I generate a narrative scene by using my body as a stamp. The surfaces upon which I leave marks are material vehicles for spirit.” 

Harris’s  interest is in what is left after his body is no longer performing. The resulting image or object could be perceived as a relic of a performance, a concretion of a lived experience, or as a materialization of possibility.

Among his most illustrative bodies of work is a series of large-scale, abstract paintings created by dipping his body in pigment then pressing his flesh against strips of vinyl and linoleum flooring. The performative painting process involves Harris repeatedly lowering himself onto the painted surfaces via a series of ropes and pulleys suspended from the ceiling of his studio.

The linoleum surfaces relate to Harris’s ancestors on his mother’s side, who were vintners who migrated from Códoba, Spain, to Guanajuato and Zamora, México, to ultimately become railroad workers in Chicago.

“They lived in a box car, and they laid linoleum flooring to make money,” Harris says. “My sheets of linoleum come partially from my grandfather’s leftovers.”

At the heart of all of Harris’s work is a compulsion to explore ideas, materials and processes that illuminate the relationships that exist between heritage—the stories through which we connect ourselves to the past—and legacy—the stories through which we connect to our possible futures.

“I’m interested in how concepts tell stories,” Harris says. “How can I find the medium to evoke a mythos around a certain type of idea?”