Harriet Lesser: Artist Statement

Behind the door

Behind the door

I started out as a poet. Slowly the images behind the words and phrases overwhelmed the words themselves, and I became a painter. Formal art training at Hunter College, the Art Students League of New York, Parsons School of Art and Design, and Bank Street College of Education influenced my career as an artist and curator and infused my investigation into media and ideas.

In my art, first is a sumi brush line, sinuous and carrying subdued passion. That leads to a space between shapes still linear. I progress from lines to shapes to colors and finally to layers. Basically, I take apart an image and then put it back together, transforming it in the process.

In my curating, I try to reach new audiences through shows that layer life objects, stories and art. It is a question of balance and putting together a difficult composition. It is always about the art and its success as a work. Resume and commentary come next. There is usually an interior narrative that begins to appear as I see the images for the exhibit.

Travel and Return

I have lived as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria, where I met artist Uche Okeke and had the great opportunity to understand narrative line.

In India I experienced working with a new palette and met fearless artists.

In Belgium I encountered new outlooks in art history, and in Rwanda I could work and teach in two languages.

I have been an exhibiting artist, teacher and curator for more than 30 years, exhibiting in the United States and overseas. The classroom and curating experiences are laboratories for my own work. And my studio work adds interest and depth in the classroom and gallery.

For me, curating is another form of composing. It is producing artwork of another genre.

On the Third Artist

In my career in Washington, I made lifelong artist friends, including Abbe Stahl Steinglass, with whom I have worked collaboratively on 26 artworks since 1990.

The Third Artist work has influenced both the development of our individual art and our collaborative efforts—neither one of us surrendering uniqueness.

Abbe and I have agreed to let go and trust.

Explore Harriet’s Gallery

See List of Exhibitions