David Ross Harper

David Ross Harper Michael Schillaci
-he was born in Toronto in 1984
-He received a fine arts degree from the Nova scotia college of Art and Design in 2006. In 2008 he won
the Halifax Mayors Award for visual arts. He was an artist in residence at the art gallery of nova scotia in
2009 and completed an MFA at the art institute of Chicago in 2011.

-he creates sculptures, embroidery, and drawings that explore the relationship of humans and the
natural world. He is interested in the form and the idea of memorials. He is interested In the things that
create links between memory and present experience. He often works with animal skins and researches
and employs traditional craft skills to create detailed works. Within his works he refers to certain
periods, modes of craft, and embellishment that articulate peculiar links to an ordered natural world. He
has a fascination with how people bring facets to these natural systems and objects into domestic
spaces in order to amplify their personal identifications with them, or with the cultures that support
them. There has never been such an obsession with producing sites of rememberene. We’re in an era
where all information has to be recorded, preserved and catalogued; every image shared; every event
commemorated . In parallel, we are in a sanitized era, where everything is polished, where nature is
controlled, contained and cleaned.

-He has had solo-exhibitions including “skin and bone” at the textile museum of Canada in 2010.
And “the last to win” at the stride gallery in Calgary in 2010. He has also exhibited in group shows in
Canada and the U.S. His work is held in the collection of the national gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

-Taxidermy is a technique increasingly used by contemporary artists since the 1990s. This method
helps harper in satisfying his pleasure in controlling wildness, claims the supremacy of culture over
nature, and even celebrates an animals mortality while deferring our own. Taxidermy promises the
-better the devil you know ,however is not. It works in a way as to highlight a contradiction by
presenting a contained and polished, almost monumental image of death. The many arrows surrounding
the animal creates a sense of theatrical drama that allows the sublimation of death. This effort to
embellish mortality is an endevour to cover up our own discomfort regarding everything that is out of
our control and that brings us back to our unavoidable death. The particularity of this piece is tat the
body of the pig has been noticeably altered. Its feet, ears, and mouth have been covered in chinese
porcelain, whichbrings another dimension to the work—of how taxidermy objectifies animals as
decorative artifacts exhibited in peoples homes, often sold as another “made in China” commodity. The
works reference to hunting is not to be disregarded either. In this way, Harpers works have multiple
layers of significance, and it is always up to the viewer to confer them with meaning. For this reason one
inextricably linked to empathy: to erect a monument is to join ones feelings to an object.

-To remind or to warn is part of the Entre le chien et le loup, which means between the wolf and the
dog. Its used to describe a specific time of day, just before the night, when the light is so dim you
distinguish a dog from a wolf. It expresses that limit between the familiar and unknown, the comfortable
and the dangerous, the domestic and the wild. It is an uncertain threshold between hope and fear. In
this piece harper explores the traditions of esoteric orders and secret societies, juxtaposing the nuances
of ritual against the explicit messege of traditional monument. His words consider the idea of order,
whether in mystical terms or in the stuctures we create every day. Speaking to domesticity, spirituality,
nature, and mortality, harper engages the viewer in a dialogue on the metaphoric weight that the
bjects present both historically and emotionally.

-Skin and Bone
-Harper embroiders portraits of people on animal skin, playing on one of the traditional roles of
the trophy from a hunting excursion might be a bear rug or a rack of antlers. These images of
anonymous, victorian era men and women imply an emotional distance that allows the artist to poke at
the slippery slope where nature and culture meet.
-also part of person place thing exhibition

-The last to win is an examination of the term branding and its subtext. Inspired by famous horses that
in death have been mounted to epitomize their former glory, and by the use of the iron brand to mark
their owners tenure. The last to win is both a tribute to, and a critique of, a peculiar cultural history.

Citations
http://www.ottawaartgallery.ca/content/david-r-harper-entre-le-chien-et-le-loup
http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~dmg/downloads/exhibitions/touring/DavidHarper.pdf
http://artmur.com/en/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/2013-exhibitions/david-ross-harper-better-the-devil-you-know/
http://www.stride.ab.ca/arc/archive_2009/david_harper_main/david_harper_main.html
http://www.textilemuseum.ca/apps/index.cfm?page=exhibition.detail&exhId=312
https://www.textilemuseum.ca/about/PersonPlaceThing.cfm