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Alumna Zeal Harris Begins Residency at Santa Monica's Camera Obscura

Artist Zeal Harris
Lookout Staff, Santa Monica Lookout

Artist Zeal Harris ('07 MFA Painting) -- whose work tackles "diffuclt realities" in a colorful style -- began her stint as the Camera Obscura Art Lab's new Studio Artist-in-Residence in Santa Monica this month, City officials said.

During her tenure, which ends November 12, Harris will explore "the impact of police violence on interpersonal relationships" in a series of workshops and narrative paintings she plans to create, organizers said.

"My work is about revealing characters on journeys," Harris said in a statement. 

"Making visual art can be an isolated activity, so being here in downtown Santa Monica next to the Pier and seeing diverse people making good memories is inspiring.

"Another social break is dancing, and that’s something I want to share while I’m here," said Harris, who in addition to the workshops will offer salsa lessons. "For me, dancing grounds and enables me to be in a place where I am able to make art about love and danger and other tough subjects."

During her residency, Harris also will research for future paintings the history of the “Inkwell” section of Santa Monica Beach, the stretch of sand near the end of Pico Boulevard frequented by blacks until the 1960s.

Harris hopes to exhibit the works she plans to complete along the coast this year, officials said.

Known for her "critical, caricaturesque, narrative artworks with a whimsical, bold, urban-vernacular flavor," Harris has produced works that have been exhibited at the 2015 Ghetto Biennale in Port Au Prince Haiti, the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, the California African-American Museum, the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica and Wallspace LA Gallery.

She received a BFA from Howard University and an MFA from Otis College of Art & Design.

The Camera Obscura Studio Artist Residency "connects the public with artists and artisans working within and between the worlds of fine art and craft," City officials said.


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