The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

SoVA M.F.A. Alumna Completes Residency at Women's Studio Workshop

Dana Harper with her creations

SoVA alumna Dana Harper (’13 M.F.A.) recently completed a ceramics studio residency at the Women’s Studio Workshop, Rosendale, New York.  She was one of five recipients awarded an NEA grant for the residency.

A multimedia sculptural artist, Harper makes curious objects and installations that combine the abstract sculpture with bright, unnatural colors and assemblage sensibility. During her time at Women’s Studio Workshop, she created a series of biomorphic sculptures using an unfamiliar medium: stoneware clay. Her sculptures’ imagery is based on the skeletal structures of single-celled algae, or diatoms.  Each sculpture is individually crafted, and together they form a growing, living alien landscape. Harper doesn’t glaze her sculptures after firing them, but instead paints them with acrylics. Once the sculptures are painted, she will coat her creatures in resin to add an unnatural sheen, giving them the look of hard candy or tinker toys.

"My years at Penn State provided devoted time to my studio practice alongside artists and teachers that have been making art for much longer than me,” said Harper. “This guidance provided through critiques, class discussion, and studio visits has helped me develop strong and honest work. Finding my own visual language and discovering my reasons for making have been essential to my growth as an artist and person.  My artistic development at Penn State has carried me into monumental opportunities, including grants, residencies, and teaching. It was not only the classes and professors, but the community created by my colleagues that has provided insights and new perspectives into my work. After graduating, I still keep in contact with my former professors, sharing opportunities and giving advice on life and art.”

Below is a sampling of the work that Harper produced during her residency. Photos courtesy of Dana Harper

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