About Harrell

Choosing assignment #52 “Write the phone call you wish you could have” from Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July’s project ‘Leaning to love you more’ Harrell Fletcher and Renee Bevan each transcribe their first imagined conversation. Below is Harrell’s imagined version of events.

H: Hello

R: Hello

H: What are your hopes related to our conversations?

R: I know that you are interested in and experienced with ways that art can be used for public collaboration and participation, I’d like to figure out how to incorporate those things into my work more.

H: OK, sounds good. My dad and grandfather were amateur jewelry makers so I have some knowledge about that activity. One of the things I think is really interesting about jewelry is that it is worn on a person’s body (as opposed to a painting on a wall for instance), its very intimate, like getting a new nose or something, though not as permanent. It is also very public when people wear it. My dad made jewelry especially for particular members of our family and did that by thinking about what they might like and what they would wear. I like that process of trying to sort out what an individual would like. I think that would be an interesting starting point, but I’m probably going to need to know more before I give any specific recommendations. What exactly do you want to do with your work and life, how does jewelry fit into that? Also can you write down in list form your medical history starting with birth and noting anything of significance up to your current life?

R: I’ll have to work on that, but will get back to you soon.

H: Ok, keep me posted. Bye.

R: Will do. Bye.


‘When an artist steps out of the studio, the possibilities forartwork are endless’[1].

If community is the canvas and experience and social interaction the paint, its Harrell’s bridging of situations that form brushstokes on his Social Canvas.

Since the mid-1990s American artist Harrell Fletcher has worked both collaboratively and individually on a number of socially engaged participatory works. At the forefront of social practice art, Harrell has an extensive exhibition practice and history within this field. Living in Portland, Oregon, he is currently Professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland University.

Making art outside the studio, Harrell forms ‘an experience in a place rather than producing a final object’[2]. Creating audience engagement through intangible collective experience, Fletchers work calls for community participants, collaborators and audiences. The documentation of these events framed within the gallery context asks the audience to consider ‘themselves, their community, and the environment as part of the art.’[3]

Citing the art gallery as a place for cultural experience, Harrell’s work acknowledges culture as being evident everywhere in the world. Bridging this relationship he brings everyday culture into the gallery context. Examining people, their communities and their stories; Harrell values and sheds light on these communities and our everyday rituals. Through documenting and highlighting the way people actively create culture these situations and experiences frame everyday aspects of our daily lives as art; rendering each of us as artists working on one big giant canvas which depicts life.



[1] https://www.pdx.edu/profile/harrell-fletcher

[2] https://www.pdx.edu/profile/harrell-fletcher

[3] https://www.pdx.edu/profile/harrell-fletcher

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