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Culture, ideas and focus: Harriet Watson talks art and life

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Harriet Watson, artist and community creative, has an upcoming show at the Harrison Center this June 7 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Indianapolis Recorder’s Hanna Rauworth sat down with her to discuss her artistic process, her inspiration and her exhibition.

Harriet Watson (Photo/ Harriet Watson)

Hanna Rauworth: Can you tell me a little bit about your background? Your hometown, your family?

Harriet Watson: I grew up in Greencastle, Indiana. I was born in Indianapolis. I was adopted…I grew up with a grandfather who was a philosopher and I feel like that kind of influences my art in some ways. Growing up in Greencastle as a mixed person, it was really difficult. I think that I really focused on identity a lot in my art, and what it means to express yourself as a black woman.

Rauworth: Can you describe your art style?

Watson: I like to use acrylic paint, oil pastels, spray paint, markers, really anything 2-D. I recently switched to abstract expressionism. I’ve always been interested in like colors and hues, and now I’m kind of making that more of a focus along with mark-making and brush strokes.

Rauworth Are those the same kinds of styles displayed in your upcoming show?

Watson: Yeah, my show right now is like a peek into my current studio practice. It’s kind of just this experimentation phase of focusing on the details of the experiment. A factor in my show is resourcefulness and reusing materials. I think there’s a lot of like randomness and intuition and freedom that happens in that in my studio practice right now.

Rauworth: Can you talk me through the process of making these works for your upcoming art show?

Watson: I don’t really have much of a process other than kind of just going for it. I’ve been experimenting these last few months with abstract expressionism, and I typically just go into my studio, and something will pop out at me and make me feel like, ‘Oh, I want to make a piece of art based off of this.’ But then I don’t want to do a realistic interpretation of it, so I have to figure out a way to make it more abstract.

Rauworth: What do you hope people feel when they see your show?

Watson: I hope people just enjoy it, I hope they see it and feel like it can give an insight into my process. I want them to feel that they’re kind of looking at my studio at this moment in time.

Rauworth: How would you describe the culture of art in Indianapolis?

Watson: I think the art culture in Indianapolis is up and coming, especially for Black artists. I think in the last few years, there have been some people in our city that are working hard to create professional, equitable, sustainable environments for artists. You can feel that energy. You can feel that it’s going in a good direction.

Rauworth: How do you hope that your show will contribute to that culture?

Watson: I really just hope that I can be a representative and just be somebody in this time that can just represent what’s going on right now. I’m an up-and-coming artist, and I’m a Black, female artist. I hope that I can just kind of parallel what’s going on or really just represent that and help other artists come up as well and see that there is a place for other Black artists.

Studio Notations will be available to the public on from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 7 in the Underground Gallery at Harrison Center located at 1505 N. Delaware St. The exhibit will feature other artists and exhibitions.

To follow Watson’s work, find her on Instagram @HarrietMakesArt. To find out more information about the Harrison Center and their galleries, visit harrisoncenter.org.Contact Staff Writer Hanna Rauworth at 317.762.7854 or follow her at @hanna.rauworth

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