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Abstract Artist Tarver Harris Finds Her Love

by | Mar 13, 2015 | Arts and Entertainment

Images: Awakening Earth I and Awakening Earth II are each 48″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas by Tarver Harris.

By Susan Larson

Tarver Harris wanted to study art in college, but her parents told her she wouldn’t be able to make any money. So she studied business for three years, until she flunked out. “I just didn’t make the grades,” she said. “I could not understand economics.”

Harris returned home. Without telling her parents, she prepared a portfolio for application to Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Art Foundation Program. She was one of only 40 students accepted from the nearly 500 applicants. “I got into VCU without any formal art training,” she said.

After college, Harris worked as a graphic designer in advertising and magazine publishing. She was good at it, winning awards and building an extensive portfolio. On her lunch breaks, she’d walk through the galleries of downtown Fredericksburg. She still wanted to paint. In 2011, she began.

“I was dabbling and I didn’t know anything, so I started taking classes with Steve Griffin,” she said. Griffin, a former University of Mary Washington art professor who studied at the Whitney Museum in New York City, works from JarrettThor Fine Arts in Colonial Beach, Va.

Harris soon discovered her love for abstract painting. “I live with my husband and two dogs along Accokeek Creek in Stafford,” she said. “It’s a place where I see everyday occurrences in nature, especially colors changing monthly, based on the seasons.” Nature is her inspiration.

“I revel in the pure joy of squeezing paint onto a surface and moving it around with sponges, brushes or squeegees, creating unique colors and textures,” Harris said.
She covers the resulting layers with a color wash, then scrapes or sands to create visual texture. “In this manner, multiple layers are built up and then sanded or scrapped away to expose what is underneath. It gives my pieces a sense of antiquity.”

“For me, painting is an exploration into the unknown to discover something new, and it oftentimes is an emotional journey,” she said. “The method is exciting, because each work reveals itself through the process, and the outcome is a complete surprise,” she said. Most of her work is done in pairs.

Harris has two upcoming shows in Fredericksburg. Her work will be featured in March 2015 at the Fredericksburg Center for Creative Arts (FCCA), 813 Sophia St., and in April at Art First Gallery, 824 Caroline St. She is a member of these galleries, and also of LibertyTown Arts in Fredericksburg. She is a board member with the Colonial Beach Art Guild.

Harris’ works are displayed online at www.tarverharrisdesigns.com. You may contact her at [email protected].

This article was first published in the February 2015 edition of Front Porch Fredericksburg magazine. It is reprinted here with permission.

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