Phillips Academy Art students tour A Long Arc with Alex Harris

Alex Harris: Artist-in-Residence

In conjunction with the exhibition A Long Arc: Photography and the American South since 1845, the Addison was honored to host photographer and Phillips Academy alum Alex Harris ’67 for a very busy week in early April.

A native southerner, Harris has photographed extensively in the American South, New Mexico, Alaska, and Cuba, and is the founder of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. In 2016, at the invitation of the Picturing the South initiative from the High Museum of Art, Harris turned his camera on independent movie sets across the South. His photograph from this series on view in A Long Arc, entitled Thunder Road, Austin Texas, demonstrates the layers of narrative involved in film production and just how easily the lines between storytelling and reality can be blurred.

Alex Harris, Thunder Road, Austin, Texas, 2017
Alex Harris, Thunder Road, Austin, Texas, 2017

Harris met with twelve separate courses and groups over the course of four jam-packed days, from Phillips Academy classes studying video, digital and film photography, and activism in art, to students studying gender and identity from Lowell High School, to a collectors group from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In addition to discussing his work on view in the gallery and the myriad stories it tells, Harris walked students through key images in the exhibition and treated them to behind-the-scenes peeks at his previous projects and those currently in progress in collaboration with his wife, Margaret Sartor. Students were inspired by the connections that Harris builds with his subjects and communities, as well as the sensitivity with which he tells their stories.

The Addison’s Edward E. Elson Artist-in-Residence program plays an important role in the museum’s exhibition and education programming, energetically supporting contemporary art by bringing established and emerging artists to campus. Every year, artists are invited to produce new work in the Visiting Artist Studio, exhibit in the galleries, give public talks, collaborate with students, and/or lead discussions with students from Phillips Academy and surrounding communities. Residencies range in duration from a few days to a series of short visits, to several months. The Addison residency program began in 1946 with Charles Sheeler and continued informally until 1982 when it was endowed through the generosity of Phillips Academy alumnus Edward E. Elson, class of 1952. 

Images: Students tour A Long Arc with Alex Harris and discuss his work in the Museum Learning Center

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