Leah Harper is an interdisciplinary artist with a background in art, architecture, and design. Her work focuses on natural forms and environmental systems. Leah participated in Oceanic Global’s Artivism Challenge in December 2017, where she started to address climate change and rising seas through her art.
1) Can you tell us about your work? Please describe what being an interdisciplinary artists entails? How has your background in architecture and graphic design influenced your work?
I make both 2D and 3D art based on organic forms- largely sea-related- working with mixed media sculpture and drawing.
The varied media and techniques that I use are drawn from different areas of my background in art, architecture, urban design, photography, social design, and graphic design. Because my work spans multiple fields, I consider myself an interdisciplinary artist.
Architecture, in particular, has influenced my love of 3D objects and installation work, while years of hand-drafting have contributed to the precise line-work of my drawings. Through graphic design, I developed an affinity for clean geometries and solid color fields. Both of these disciplines have given me knowledge of software that I use when I create digital art or renderings.
2) Is there anything specific about the ocean that speaks to you as an artist?
I’ve always created sea-like forms in my work, often intuitively and unintentionally. These shapes have stuck with me from a young age while growing up in Southwest Florida, where I collected sea life from the canals and beaches nearby.
These experiences led me to pursue environmental art. I’ve watched unique marine animals and shells slowly disappear, and I’ve seen many hurricanes powerful enough to easily flood my hometown that is 5 feet above sea level, depending on the direction of their course. I’ve even witnessed canal levels rise ever so slightly in the last 30 or so years. This is why I began deliberately focusing on themes of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise. I want to raise awareness of this issue that threatens so many coastal communities around the world.
3) What is your relationship with oceans and marine environment? How have those relationships influenced your work?
I had spent a lot of time discovering different shells and marine life as a kid. In New York, I still try to visit beaches to collect things. The marine life here is different, but we are still very much surrounded by water. I like to bike to Fort Tilden or Plumb Beach in summer, where I’ve even found sand dollars and horseshoe crabs. I have a large assortment of shells and other things from the sea. They come from Florida, New York, and everywhere I travel, and I keep them at my studio as inspiration for my work.
Where can people see more of your work?
More of my work can be found on www.leahharper.com or via my Instagram @leahcharp.