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Member Highlight
June 5, 2023

Member Spotlight: D'nae Harrison

About the Author
Danielle Hanlon

Danielle Hanlon is the Communications and Social Media Manager at InLiquid. With a background in content creation, Danielle has a love for storytelling in all forms and a passion for learning more about the people and world around her.
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InLiquid Member

D’nae Harrison is an InLiquid Member and Award-winning Interdisciplinary Artist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her work comes in many forms, from paintings to photography to design work and more. As Harrison describes, “my work speaks not only for me but for those who do not have the same freedom.”

Today we talked with D’nae and heard from her about her process, style, inspirations, and what she has going on next! Read her full interview below.

InLiquid: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you first became interested in pursuing art as a career?
DH: Art has always been a positive outlet for my emotions. Growing up I would constantly doodle so my Mimi encouraged me to sign and date everything I made. She played a huge role in nurturing my confidence as an Artist. Interning with Mural Arts Philadelphia for several years showed me early on that I could make a living as a painter. My Mom would let me paint mini murals on the walls in my bedroom which was so cool to me at the time. She also supported my decision to pursue a BFA from Penn State which led to my career post-grad in Art.

InLiquid: Describe your process for creating for us. Do you have an end goal in mind before you start creating, or do you make decisions and changes as you go?
DH: I usually have a loose idea in mind before I physically start creating and let the work guide me as I go. Symmetry is a fundamental part of my work. I love balance and usually stop working on a piece once the work “feels right”. That applies to both painting and music. The hardest part of my process is usually the inspiration phase. If I’m not passionate about the idea or subject I find it hard to fully commit. Completely starting a piece over is not something I like to do either.

InLiquid: You’ve mentioned before that your work is heavily influenced by a variety of topics like American culture, self-reflection, social justice issues, etc. What are the things you find most inspiring to your practice?
DH: My biggest inspiration is love and how it affects the way we navigate the world around us. My previous body of work focused heavily on countering oppression while exploring identity and self expression. While love was always the underlying inspiration, sadness and depression fueled my earlier work. My work started out black & white with blue added every once in a while. I later chose to work with a brighter palette as a form of color therapy. I’ve also been inspired by a handful of Artists over the years.

InLiquid: How do you think your role as an artist plays into the greater issues and solutions involved in today’s battles for social equality? What impact do you hope for your work to have in and for your community?
DH: Though I still seek a safe society and equality, I want to focus on the healing powers of love specifically and spread more of it into the world through Art and Music. It’s so easy to get caught up in negativity but the goal is not to let it control actions. I hope my work influences those who engage to follow their light and stay optimistic. I know my work has already inspired folks to be creative and try their hand at painting. On a larger scale I hope my work will encourage folks to be self aware and overall better people to themselves and others.

InLiquid: What do you have in store moving forward? You mentioned to us that you may have your debut solo exhibition happening soon?
DH: Yes, I am working on my debut solo exhibition which I’m truly excited about. Most of the work has already been completed but I’m still mapping out the full experience and looking for more sponsorships. I want my debut to be lavish since it is 10 years in the making. I expressed on a call with Genevieve Coutroubis (Executive Artistic Director, CFEVA) my interest in exhibiting my signature body of work as a way of closing that chapter and fully moving on to the next phase of my career as an Artist. She agreed that it wasn’t a question of if it should happen but when. Aside from that, I have commissions and personal projects in progress as well.

InLiquid: What are some of the goals you’ve set for yourself in your career? Is there any thing or any sort of project you’d like to accomplish some day in the future?
DH: As far as goals, I want to create murals more often. I’m not sure if a lot of people know this but murals are my favorite form of painting. Being from Philly of course I want to have my own series of permanent murals throughout the city and other places. On a musical side I would love to go on tour. I dream of performing on big stages and headlining large festivals and events. I’m at a place in life where I am more open to the idea of teaching Art as well. If I taught a course it would most likely be Intro to Painting or something of that nature.

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