100 Creatives: Dennis Lee Harper
photo by Christopher Patronella, Jr.
What he does: Dennis Lee Harper makes good use of his lively sense of humor and personality when creating his art. "It comes out in most of my work...it's a little quirky but people seem to respond to it," Harper says, laughing. The video artist and sculptor likes to call himself "bi-metro" since he spends time sculpting in Houston and making videos in Austin. "Most of my sculptures are large or scaled-up objects made with ephemeral materials like paper and foam board," he says. "My videos are mostly narrative...and like my sculptures, they're usually humorous and maybe entertaining, but with a subtext that explores some aspect of our culture."
Why he likes it: When in Houston, Harper does his sculpting at Box 13 Artspace, a gallery on the east side of town. "Box 13 is where I build most of my large sculptures. The best thing about Box 13--besides being an organization of artists--is that we focus on our gallery space and on exhibiting really excellent cutting-edge artists."
Courtesy of Dennis Lee Harper
What inspires him: Harper grew up in Los Angeles and attributes the influence of his material to being raised in the entertainment capital of America. "The subjects that I explore in my sculptures are mostly about objects that are icons of American popular culture...I'm especially interested in the objects that have taken on a life and meaning of their own." For instance, his Paper Motorcycle sculpture-made entirely of wood, paper, and foamboard-demonstrates the symbolism of certain modes of American-made transportation. "It's a scaled-up replica of a classic American motorcycle, and there's a subculture and a kind of mythology that's built up around these bikes, so that it has become a symbol and not just some transportation vehicle."
What's next: Harper will be spending the next few months preparing for a fall exhibition at The Joanna in Houston. "The Joanna openings are fun and a lot of people show up. They encourage artists to do something different or wild."
The wildest thing about Harper's work, however, is his attention to detail.
"The amount of craft I put into my work is crazy. Often times my work looks entertaining and goofy on the surface-maybe that's all it ever is to most people-but I'd like to think it has some sort of undercurrent that you can get into if you think about it."
More Creatives (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
David A. Brown, photographer Rachel Harmeyer, visual artist Kia Neill, installation artist Stacy Davidson, filmmaker Jennifer Wood, choreographer GONZO247 Kevin DeVil, filmmaker Kerry Beyer, photographer and filmmaker Robert Ellis, musician Davie Graves, musician and visual artist Robert Hodge, multimedia Mary Magsamen, photo and video artist John Harvey, theater Bret Harmeyer, visual artist Joel Orr, puppet master Rodney Waters, photographer and pianist Jeremy Choate, lighting designer Chuck Ivy, visual artist Tra'Slaughter, visual artist Jen Chen - visual art, designer Howard Sherman - Painter Nancy Hendrick - Founder of Dance Salad Misha Penton - Opera Singer and Theater Artist Ben Tecumseh DeSoto - Photojournalist Tracy Robertson aka Batty - Goth Fashion Designer Tierney Malone - Creative Type Dolan Smith - Painter Jenny Schlief - Mixed-Media Artist David Eagleman - Writer Anna Sprage - Painter Philip Lehl - Actor Andy Noble - Choreographer David McGee - Painter
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