Objects of adornment can be a tool, memento, a safety measure. Moved by the profound histories of jewelry, Basha Harris creates work that encourages self-reflection, and challenges the wearer to access their creative freedom.  An interdisciplinary artist, Basha celebrates both utilitarian and art objects, and works to develop alluring functional solutions through material studies. A large facet of her practice involves collaboration and organizing. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.  Basha received her BFA in Jewelry & Metalsmithing from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. She is a founder and former resident artist of  Yours Truly Community Studio , located in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is co-founder of the New York-based interdisciplinary arts collective,  Loose Interpretation.

Objects of adornment can be a tool, memento, a safety measure. Moved by the profound histories of jewelry, Basha Harris creates work that encourages self-reflection, and challenges the wearer to access their creative freedom.

An interdisciplinary artist, Basha celebrates both utilitarian and art objects, and works to develop alluring functional solutions through material studies. A large facet of her practice involves collaboration and organizing. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Basha received her BFA in Jewelry & Metalsmithing from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. She is a founder and former resident artist of Yours Truly Community Studio, located in the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is co-founder of the New York-based interdisciplinary arts collective, Loose Interpretation.

 

A featured interview with designer and editor Madeline Stocking, for the publication Duomo no.5, 2017.

M - What is your favorite shape right now?

B - Definitely a circle!

M - What comes to mind with a circle?

B - Obvious things such as the moon; but always womyn, [my] uterus, energy orbs, fruit! It’s beautiful that uteri have their own environment, like the Amazon rainforest. Self-sufficient, often oscillating with the larger body.

M - Is there another part of the body that is especially intriguing to you lately?

B - My stomach; also its own world. Many researchers have referred to the stomach as the second brain. Our bodies physiologically encourage us to return or level-out to our naturally inherent states of being - like a plant reaching toward the sun, reaching toward our nutrients whether we want them or not. The body in itself is fascinating to me. A large organism that fights itself.

M - I see this disposition reflected in your jewelry. Is there a certain point with your relationship to your body that led you to find your “voice” in creating your current body of work?

B - Absolutely. Most of my work reflects the versatility of the circle. I form them into more organic, bodily shapes. I have recently begun including more identifiable elements such as hands, faces, and textures. I am inspired by the reaction that someone has, like the Rorschach test; What do you see? Do you see yourself?

M - A noodle.

B - Yes! And how do you relate to a noodle? When you see a noodle do you think about how it feels in your mouth? Do you think about dancing? Feeling free and youthful? Listening to Mmmbop by Hanson? Watching a Disney Channel Original movie?

M - There are so many kinds of noodles. I’ve never really liked penne, it’s far too static. Do you find the movement of your pieces to be an important aspect...or are you working towards / against this in any way?

B - Definitely. I am inspired by movement - social, physical. “Organic” in my mind really means flowing - ebbing, flowing; Frida Kahlo, elasticity, gooey aloe plants, the smell of decay on the bike path.

M - What are some other mediums that influence your jewelry practice? Have you always made jewelry or did it grow out of something else ?

B - As much as I occasionally find myself downplaying the importance of painting in my life, I am very inspired by it. However, I’m most inspired by artists who have dabbled in everything! Artists such as Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Beuys. Performance art, Marina Abramovic. I think of her all day long. Anselm Kiefer was an artist whose work I was incredibly moved by as an 18-year-old living in Israel. I saw one of his solo shows at the Tel Aviv art museum, and went back three times - a 2-hour trek by train at the time.

M - I find it limiting to just draw from one thing. At the same time, it can be difficult to find a way to facilitate multiple disciplines. Since graduation from UWM in spring of 2016, have you found it fairly easy or difficult to source the support you need as a maker/artist?

B - The summer directly following graduation I felt empty. I was floating - I internalized feeling lost and confused and without space. I directed my energy into controlling material things, and focusing on my body. When I realized this, and during a long transitional time, I moved to Madison. I searched the depths of the artist community in Madison, finding every individual and collective studio space I could. I then realized that I did not want to invest in the seemingly sparse Madison artist community (outside of the UW community), and went to the UW Union to check out their equivalent of UW-Milwaukee’s Craft Centre, called “Wheelhouse studios”. I befriended the staff at Wheelhouse and they let me use the space as much as I wanted, for free! I even DJ’d the space. After a summer of blah, I felt inspired just to have an accessible space and to be around people and makers. I just wanted to make as much as possible, and became instantly fond of Bernie’s Rock Shop, a local stone dealer and lapidary in Madison. I lived nearby and stopped in almost every week to see their inventory -- #stoner haha --- but seriously infatuated by the gems that nature offers; from agate to diamonds - In love - small paintings that you can carry with you and doze off into.

M - I feel like DJ should be a more frequent line used on ones resume. Did you feed off of the communal / open space of the studio? Do you ever wish that you had your own personal studio space?

B - Constantly. I also felt very limited in terms of hours. I worked full time and only had nights free, but almost each night was occupied by various classes the studio was offering. I have a difficult time pausing a process when I am in it - emotional, physical, artistic - so I often work in the studio all day, create a whole body of work, and call it. Then do the same thing the next day. Like a book of poetry, a long-winded performance, or a short sketch! But to complete something in its breadth, and breathe all at once, is my jam! I am definitely influenced by tarot readings in this way as well. I believe in three card readings; present moment, current obstacle, and outcome - and that these things change in an instant. So why go on and on and create a whole body of work when you can go through it in one breath and get out what you’re trying to say? Because that is the process, and then you are able to make a new body with a stronger presence. Does that make sense? Move on. There is no ”best” only better, only new. Better because you’re in the process and are growing every second.

M - #Healthysigh. #Bashamovedon . Now you have a beautiful community space called Yours Truly in the Riverwest community of Milwaukee. What are you most looking forward to with this space?

B - I am looking forward to/celebrating daily: community, intentional learning outside of the institution, fun times, sharing space, individual and shared artistic processes and practices, influence by mediums other than my own, and putting things into perspective. 

I’m maybe most looking forward to celebrating [local] emerging artists by exhibiting their work! Experiencing them and encouraging their growth by providing a space for them to talk and teach about their practice/expertise through workshops (small and large) and discussions, forums, actions, screenings! I’m excited to be in Milwaukee to encourage folks to see the magic that exists here by engaging with one another and with ourselves (Including myself).

M - I have one last curiosity - was there a piece of jewelry that you were infatuated with as a child? 

B - My mom made this ring for my grandmother; a cast silver ring with harsh corners and soft bends, with a beautifully set aquamarine. I don’t remember my grandmother ever wearing it, she passed when I was 5, but I was obsessed with her; I wanted to be with her every moment. I thought she was my mom. When she passed my mom showed me this ring; she was mourning and I was too. Last year my mom gave it to me!