Curated by Senga Nengudi
“Kira is able to capture the spatial, temporal aspects of light, directing its rhythm as it shimmers and gyrates onto walls and architectural surfaces, faces, bodies and objects. Even her drawings echo this shimmering use of light and reflective surfaces as meditations, intentionally disorienting the viewer to the point of needing a re-orientation to a new reality — disengaging from the known.” —Senga Nengudi
New York-based artist Kira Lynn Harris masterfully manipulates the perception of space and place through her ethereal light installations and meditative drawings. Re-orienting the viewer’s observational equilibrium, the negotiation of the temporal qualities of light, atmosphere and perspective effectively de-stabilizes their pre-conceived approach to architectural structures. Each of her projects begins with an acute examination of the space and its location. Calling them “architectural and environmental interventions,” Harris often chooses to concentrate on transitional or overlooked areas, shifting the viewer’s focus from traditional points of view. Simple materials such as lighting gels, plywood and silver Mylar are employed sparingly to evoke a sense of mystery and otherness. Like the Science Fiction writers Harris admires, her fantastic environments transport the viewer to another realm, bringing into question their understanding of reality and in effect transforming their relationship with the world around them. Culling together interests in the sublime, the infinite and speculative fiction, her installations and drawings all come together to present an awe-inspiring and self-reflective experience, always unique to the location and viewer.
Untitled (Pyramid) (above) was installed at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Referencing the pyramidal shapes she found throughout the space and throughout the city, most prominently in the Museum’s façade and Barnett Newman’s nearby Broken Obelisk, a plywood pyramid was covered with Mylar and the room set aglow with fiery light, evoking a sunrise – the dawn of something spectacular. Much like a sunrise over calm water, it is difficult to distinguish where the wall ends and the floor begins. However, the work’s true form only arises through the viewer’s experience – as they become part of the installation themselves, disoriented and bathed in light. Waterfall (right) was installed in a basement stairwell at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. Using only Mylar and controlled light, the stairs were transformed into a glowing, celestial entity. Harris’s installations and drawings alike enlist structural and geometric shapes to form abstracted, organic environments, culminating in novel and probing studies of traditional aesthetics.
On view at CUE Art Foundation, Harris’s first solo show in Manhattan, are visual manifestations of her various musings and interests. Included is a site-specific light installation centered on three of the gallery’s back walls, a selection of her drawings, video documentation of Waterfall and a perspective drawing that will run the entire length of one gallery wall.