Kira Lynn Harris

     Born in Los Angeles, Kira Lynn Harris is an artist, who uses “mixed video, photography, drawing, painting and site-specific installation,” and asserts the combination and intersection of what space and light is, in regards to individual subjectivity. However, she currently resides and works in New York, NY. She has received her education and expertise from several different institutions, which led her to receiving an MFA. Her education began at the Occidental College in LA, and the she moved on to receiving her BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz, then she went to the California Institute of Arts to receiver her MFA, and finally attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

     Throughout her career, Kira Lynn Harris has exhibited numerous solo exhibitions and group projects. Her art has been exhibited at various venues and exhibitions around the New York area, as well. Some of these locations include, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the International Center for Photography in NYC.  She has participated in residencies, at locations such as the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council residency program at the World Trade Center. In 2005, she premiered her first solo exhibition entitled, Eve Slept Here, which appeared in the Bruno Marina Gallery, located in Brooklyn, NY.  Eve Slept Here, is a series of images from Kira Lynn’s time spent during her residency at the Center for Photography at Woodstock. Below is an excerpt form Kira Lynn Harris’ statement regarding her solo exhibition, and her concern with art and portrayal.

   Eve Slept Here –  Kira Lynn Harris – Photography 2005

     “My primary interest is in light, space, perception, and the sublime. I look to contemporary movements such as Land Art and Light and Space Art as well as landscape painters including the Hudson River School , Turner and the abstractionist Mark Rothko. My projects in photography, video, and sound, as well as site-specific installations, often provide a disorienting experience for the viewer. In my installations I am concerned with destabilization and re-orientation. To achieve this I often create architectural and environmental interventions – by using light and reflective surfaces; by inverting subject and object or figure and ground; and/or by reversing up and down, exterior and interior.”

     Kira Lynn Harris’ various artwork installations and exhibitions commonly incorporated large amounts of space by using methods of “mixed video, photography, drawing, painting and site-specific installation.” A perfect example of this, is her most recent exhibit entitled, The Block | Bellona. This exhibit is simply white contour lines that depict houses and buildings within the area, all on top of flat black walls. It’s origin stems from a similar artwork called, The Block, created by Romare Bearden in 1971. Within this work, he portrayed Harlem and its buildings on a “six panel, eighteen-foot-long collage.” Harris’ portrayed is supposed to suggest a modern, alternate Harlem.

The Block – Romare Bearden – “Cut and pasted printed, colored and metallic papers, photostats, graphite, ink marker, gouache, watercolor, and ink on masonite.” 1971
    The Block | Bellona – Kira Lynn Harris – Pastel ad black paint on wall 2011

Bearden’s portrayal of Harlem struck a chord with Harris for a few reasons. The main two that she lists are the fact that Romare Bearden is one of the first African-American artists that she was influenced by and learned about, and the other reason is that Harlem has been her home for a very long time. As an African-American woman living in New York, these two details behind the creation of The Block, in 1971 have been a major impact on her art and her life. Harris also equates Bearden with being a beautiful colorist, but within his portrayal of Harlem, we tend to get lost in the color and forget about the beauty of the architecture and structure.

     Kira Lynn Harris has created various other installations that use space and light in creative and innovative ways. She has received numerous grants and awards for her work, and continues to create new works in New York.

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“The Block,” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Met.  <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

“Kira Lynn Harris,” The Center for Photography at Woodstock <> Accessed 17 October 2016

“Kira Lynn Harris,” Contemporary Wing <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

“Kira Lynn Harris,” International Contemporary Art <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

“Kira Lynn Harris: The Block | Bellona,” Studio Museum <> Accessed 17 October 2016.


Harris, Kira Lynn, “96 Degrees in the Shade, (Installation View, Detail) ” Digital Image. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Harris, Kira Lynn, “96 Degrees in the Shade (Installation View),” Digital Image. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Bearden, Romare. “The Block,” Digital Image. 1971. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Harris, Kira Lynn, “The Block | Bellona,” Digital Image. 2011. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Harris, Kira Lynn, “The Block | Bellona (Detail 2),” Digital Image. 2011. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Harris, Kira Lynn, “The Block | Bellona (Detail 3),” Digital Image. 2011. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Harris, Kira Lynn, “Burried, Partially,” Digital Image. 2009. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Harris, Kira Lynn, “Untitled (Pyramid), (Installation View),” Digital Image. 2007. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Harris, Kira Lynn, “Waterfall (Installation View, Detail),” Digital Image. 2005. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Sanders, Chris. “Portrait Portfolio,” Digital Image. <> Accessed 17 October 2016.

Blog post by Blaine Shepherd.


4 thoughts on “Kira Lynn Harris

  1. In Kira Lynn Harris’ The Block, the use of lines to convey the buildings and inhabitants of Harlem provides a fascinating new view of the neighborhood. The white lines on black seem like a simpler portrayal of the neighborhood. But, at the same time, by removing color and shading from the equation, Harris is able to emphasis other details of the area, such as the architecture. In addition, the simplification of the image seems to create a unique environment in which the mind must work to fill in the complexities of the image, picturing the colors that would belong to the neighborhood or the brick continuing along the entirety of buildings. (K. Chapman)


  2. Two of my most prevalent fascinations over the years have been water and light, and Kira Lynn Harris seems to share my love of the two, and even combines them. In “Waterfall,” she uses light to give the impression of ripples of water on the surface of the stairs. She also uses ripple-like reflections in several of her other works, such as “Pyramid” and “96 Degrees in the Shade.” The fact that she can use a medium as delicate and elusive as light to mimick equally illusive mediums such as fire and water exhibits a tremendous amount of control.


  3. Most of Kira Lynn Harris’ work, as far as I can tell, abstains from color in order to emphasize the directness and factuality of her scenes through the use of sharp, straight lines. Even her art that does include color is characterized by blockiness and straight lines. The simplicity of design in regards to realism and detail orientation creates an interesting, almost coloring book style, to her work. The fact that oftentimes her details stop midway through her work, requiring our mind to carry on the design to the rest of her art is an interesting and effective way to keep us involved in the art. Emily Mollet


  4. The work of Kira Lynn Harris is very pleasing. She is very precise in her angles and lines and even the very simplistic line perspective pieces feel like they could come to life. I think it is very intriguing how the colored piece and the following black and white piece are very similar in design but are still also different in feel and appeal. I love how she is simplistic in most of the drawing but brings focus to certain areas, generally the windows, by adding detail with characters. The reflections from the stairs are also aesthetically pleasing. Kira Lynn Harris is an outstanding example of how less can most certainly be more.
    Rachel Elder


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