Megan Gabrielle Harris is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in drawing, painting, and photography. Dividing her time between Brooklyn, New York and Sacramento, California where she lives and works. Gabrielle Harris’ work is influenced by travel, surreal landscapes, and nature. Her work typically features women of color depicted as powerful, regal, and divine and often painted against a rich, vibrant backdrop.
Gabrielle Harris explores dreamscapes and the concept of escape, an idea she identifies with the work of her father, Thomas Harris, who painted in the Escapism style.
“Joy, sorrow, hopefulness, curiosity, fearlessness, and the beauty of solitude” are a few of the elements of her father’s paintings that she taps into with her own practice.
“My subjects rest, daydream, they indulge, they travel and they are fulfilled in their own company. My intentions are to glorify and focus in on all of these aspects of Black women simply existing and having pleasurable experiences.”
During her studies, Gabrielle Harris was drawn to the styles and color choices of Paul Gauguin and Salvador Dalí and determined to reinterpret those ideas from her own perspective and experiences. Her dreamy and sublime escapes are created as a form of self-therapy as well as to serve as inspiration to others.
The artist’s latest series of works touch on her own aspirations for the calmness and peace associated with the idea of leisure. These large-scale paintings depict women of color in a relaxed state, their serenity permeating the space around them. Gabrielle Harris stresses the importance in their poses and environments as something she does not often see in media; a Black Woman in a calm and drama-free state.
“My subjects rest, daydream, they indulge, they travel and they are fulfilled in their own company,” she said. “My intentions are to glorify and focus in on all of these aspects of Black women simply existing and having pleasurable experiences.”
Though growing up, Gabrielle Harris recalled not seeing those kinds of representations of Black women in the media she consumed, she said her experience was different from that which she saw reflected. “I’m a calm person,” she said. And she wanted to offer broader reflections in her work. “This is my experience,” she said referring to her work. “I want to travel. I want to be leisurely. I want to have these experiences and not have them tied to anything else.”
Gabrielle Harris’ powerful depictions of the Black female experience inspire thoughts of a utopian beauty beyond the everyday experience. Her escapist style showcases a dreamscape in which the Black female form is celebrated.
The artist’s latest works feature sumptuous portraits created with thick sweeping brush strokes. Housed within abstract elements, she plays with earthiness and luxury.
“I take a lot of inspiration from my own travels and the places that I’ve been,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll combine places I’ve been: ‘Trees from this place, and mountainside from that place,’ and I kind of put it all together.”
Gabrielle Harris admits that her method has changed drastically since she first started taking her painting seriously in school. Likely influenced by her change in her course of study from graphic design to art history, her canvases also changed. She used to begin her process with vigorous planning through digital collages, but recently scrapped that method in favor of “feeling her next steps” through the combinations of colors. She also began working on larger canvases. Ironically, by stepping out of her comfort zone, she has addressed her ideal of comfort and opulence in her works.
Megan Gabrielle Harris most recently showed her work with De Buck Gallery at Untitled Art Miami Beach 2021. She has also collaborated with Kate Hudson’s InBloom line of holistic supplements to design digital artworks for sustainable packaging. She has collaborated with Wandler for a capsule collection of hand-painted bags offered exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman in 2020. In 2019, Gabrielle Harris was one of five women artists selected by Veuve Clicquot and Colossal Media to create a mural for the project 5 Women. 5 Boroughs. 5 Stories.
Megan Gabrielle Harris divides her time between New York City and Sacramento, where she lives and works. She received her B.A. in Art History from California State University Sacramento.