As he often says, Mike Harris, Jr. makes work about “bees, flowers, and farm scenes.” He became a bee advocate years ago after reading an article about endangered pollinator populations at the local food coop. “I thought, ‘I’m already an artist. Maybe I could do something by painting bees,’ ” he says. In his acrylic and watercolor paintings, pinks, oranges and greens compose vibrating skies; worker bees pollinate in effervescent swirls of color; and rolling hills are laced with luminous rows of corn.
Harris hopes that his paintings will encourage viewers to contemplate the interconnectedness of bees and humans, as well as rural and urban environments. “There’s so much more to a farm than meets the eye,” he says. “You might see a barn, silo, fence, and mailbox as you drive by. But once you talk to the people who run the farm, it’s a whole new world. It just opens the doors of perception to what people need. Rural communities need the city communities. We have to work together to get what we need.”
In addition to his creative practice and advocacy work, Harris is an accomplished long-distance runner and dedicated cyclist, commuting by bike when possible. He has presented work in exhibitions throughout the Twin Cities, including Randomland at The White Page (2019), Groundswell (2019) at Artspace Jackson Flats (2019), and Palace of Wonder at Minneapolis Institute of Art (2012). In 2018, Harris received an Emerging Artist Grant from VSA Minnesota.
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