MAGNIFYING, No. 19: Kelsey Harrison

April 01 2019

By Noelle Sharp

For this episode of MAGNIFYING we spoke with Department of Art & Art History Assistant Professor Kelsey Harrison. Our creative community here at the College of Fine Arts is diverse and wide spread. With the goal of gaining a deeper knowledge and awareness of the people within our community, we bring you MAGNIFYING, a series dedicated to showcasing the talent of our students, faculty, and staff.

Tell us about yourself: Name, where you are from, what you do and how you got into in your field of work
My name is Kelsey Harrison and I am from the Bay Area in California. I make sculpture and teach in the Sculpture Intermedia area in the Department of Art and Art History. I got into it when, in the transition from middle to high school, technical classes were no longer available and the closest thing was a 3D art class. We worked in ceramic and small metals. I fell in love with the atmosphere and spent nearly every moment, spare or otherwise..., in the Crafts classroom. I studied sculpture in college because I never stopped making sculpture, even when I dabbled in other possible majors in community college.

What has surprised you the most in your life?
Most things, honestly. I didn't have a long-term vision when I was younger. I never expected to be a professor. I never expected to be as professionally oriented and serious as I have been in the last few years. I was a party girl in high school-I won the superlative of "biggest slacker" in our high school year book. When I began taking myself and my abilities seriously, everything began to change and since then every single thing has been a surprise.

What do you wish you had known/been told?
Ambition for its own sake isn't worth much. Ambition should, if you value it, be in relationship to what you love and what makes you happy. In a minor way, I fell into the trap of wanting what I thought I should want, meeting benchmarks of success that were..."natural next steps" in my field rather than setting benchmarks based on making the life I want. Trust yourself and listen to yourself, and center ambitions around what you find when you do. This is something I was told, of course, but I wish I hadn't decided it was a corny platitude. Corny platitudes, as much as they make my skin crawl, have largely proven to be valuable axioms. Your art won't be satisfying to you if you aren't trusting yourself and listening, even if your work is patently not interested in "self-expression" as the highest value.