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Hot Viet Sunscape by Dana Lynn Harper


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About the work

My work is rooted in searching for my own heritage, creating my own ritual centered around collection and repetitive making. As a biracial person with an Asian immigrant parent, I experience a sense of displacement from both my familial lineage as well as the dominant culture. I attempt to create a sense of connection to my cultural roots by exploring my human connection to the earth through natural materials. Using these materials I reimagine temples and monuments from my culture. By combining these disparate sources with my own lived experiences, I create a visual map of my personal history.

All works are made through the act of collection – from long walks along the river, trips to the thrift store, trips to Michigan, Vermont and Maine as well as walks around my neighborhood. Through this collection practice I cultivate a sense of wonder and curiosity and as a result, the work is imbued with a sense of admiration for the world around me.

Using traditional materials like plaster bandage, paper mache, and paper clay in a child-like way releases my process from constraining rules or preconceived notions of how the material should be used. They can be molded and shaped into various forms and structures by hand, allowing for more open ended play and experimentation. Sculpting natural and malleable materials by hand connects me to my ancestral roots and I commune with the makers that came before me.

Small objects are treated with reverence, they are protected through embedment and valued for their unique imperfections. Each one is given a home, a space to exist as they are, where they are honored and admired. The act of cementing these small objects into an artwork creates a sense of permanence and significance. These objects become artifacts and are elevated from their everyday existence and given a new context. Together they become a collection of experiences, memories and histories.

The assortment of small, hand held objects are often embedded into a structure that is inspired by webbing, spines, coral and Asian architecture. I use the portal to represent travel from one culture to another and the transition of one time period to the next.

The work takes form like natural growths, clusters and organic formations. They give the impression of being a part of nature rather than something created by human hands.
By rejecting the pursuit of a high-end finish and embracing imperfection as an essential aspect of my work, I challenge my own ideas around value and embracing the world as it is.

Harper holds a BFA in Art & Technology from The Ohio State University, she lives and works in Columbus, Oh. Recipient of The Bunton Waller Fellowship from Penn State University, where Harper received her MFA in 2013. Harper has been the recipient of an ArtPrize Artist Seed Grant and The ArtFile Emerging Artist Grant, Ringholz Foundation Award, OAC Professional Award and Manifest Prize. She has had solo exhibitions across the US, most notably at The Sculpture Center, Grounds For Sculpture, The University of Kentucky, Front/Space Gallery & Museum in Kansas City, MO, Manifest Gallery and ROY G BIV. Harper has been an Artist in Residence at Kutztown University, Teton Art Lab, Bunker Projects, Second Sight Studio, Plyspace, Sculpture Space and ArtSpace Raleigh. She was awarded a scholarship through The NEA to attend Women’s Studio Workshop in 2015 and has received a fellowship to attend in Vermont Studio Center in the fall of 2022. Harper has made public installations in collaboration with The Columbus Museum of Art, Short North Arts District as well as The University Arts District in Columbus, Ohio.

Artwork: Hot Viet Sunscape, 2023 by Dana Lynn Harper
6 x 6.5 inches Paper clay, wood panel, fabric dye, foil paper

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