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Gardiner Museum

David R. Harper

David R. Harper

Field Study: Der Junge und Die Wiese (The Boy and the Meadow)

Ceramic with opalescent glaze, wood, acrylic, cast acrylic, dried flowers, wool roving, plaster, cast paper, glass, enamel



Our relationships to our objects in domestic spaces can ignite new histories. For me, the most interesting are the ones that are subversive, destabilize identity or suggest the absence of something. In my work, I try to articulate that accretion of experience, that loss and those feelings of non-fulfillment. To frame these elements, I use materials and ways of making that require physical handling: manipulating clay, repetitiously embroidering, intricate weaving, woodworking and taxidermy. I select materials that initially might seem familiar but, upon closer inspection, alienate or seem uncanny. This sensitivity to materiality and craftsmanship remind viewers that history can be tactile and felt rather than just read. I am attempting to re-create moments to be reminded of them, knowing that the replication is the ritual.

David R. Harper

David R. Harper was born in Toronto. He completed his BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax in Sculpture in 2006 before pursuing an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago graduating in 2011. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in Canada and in the United States including Skin and Bone at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, Plateau at the South Bend Museum of Art in Indiana and In Paradise at the Butcher’s Daughter in Detroit. He has exhibited work in group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. Harper has been artist in residence at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax in 2009, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha in 2014, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/ Industry program at the Kohler factory in Wisconsin in 2012 and 2014. Harper’s work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation in Los Angeles.


David Harper’s work evokes a sense of the baroque combined with surrealism. His sculptures are both beautiful and disturbing. He is technically adroit and his combination of materials is both sensitive and unexpected, adding to their power.

Virginia Eichhorn, nominator
Director and Chief Curator of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario

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