In the same way that Rachel Harrison scavenges, gleans, borrows, amplifies and conjoins materials, here we bring together multiple voices. And a simulacrum of some of her work.
For most artists, Harrison included, making pieces means engaging with the physical world.
Cement, acrylic, wood, cardboard, child mannequin, cans of green peas, 6“ rubber wrestlers, papier-mâché skull, Giacometti detail, a yarmulke, tire, a small sealed container of water from a Virgin Atlantic flight that she determined could be holy water, Glade Lavender Meadow and Air Wick Lavender & Chamomile air fresheners, Quadrille graph paper, restaurant delivery slip, blue masking tape, photographs of Kevin Bacon, Liz Taylor, Marlon Brando, the Long Island Expressway, her own photographs of people at a racetrack, at a protest, of people putting their hands against the inside of a window in a house in Perth Amboy, New Jersey where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared, rubber barrister’s wig, can of Arnold Palmer's half and half lemonade and green tea, fake Cyrano de Bergerac nose...
Language and Languages
“...what is description, after all/ but encoded desire?” 
Mark Doty [1]
The Honey Collector, Bustle in your Hedgerow, Marilyn with Wall, Conquest of the Useless, Our Friend in Malta, Roman Holiday, Teaching Bo to Count Backwards, I'm No Monkey, Snake in the Grass, Schmatte with President, Johnny Depp, Bike Week at Daytona, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Al Gore, Fats Domino, Foot Stays in the Picture 2, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander the Great, Voyage of the Beagle, If I Did It, Consider the Lobster, Lay of the Land, Trees for the Forest...
And then there is the language of the readymade spoken in a new dialect.
“Harrison has expressed her desire to keep readymades untransformed in her works…to grasp readymades …as Harrison’s sculptures do, is neither to absorb them into a composition (as in the pictorial strategy) nor to revise their grammar (as in the post-modern strategy) – but to host them in a liminal state where association is both promiscuous and obscure. Instead of offering a new semantics for a thermostat or a can of iced tea, Harrison suspends these things in a field of alternate “interfaces.”…placed precariously at angles and on edges, Harrison’s readymades seem always about to slip or fall…commodities are subject to sudden changes in position—changed in state that arise not from semantic recoding but rather from potential or simulated motion. In Harrison’s sculptures, the dynamics of things lead rather than follow their semiotics.”
David Joselit [2]


“...if we forge / terms for it, then isn't it / contained in us, / a little, / the brightness?”
Mark Doty [3]
“...the bright, sunny pinks and greens of a Monet lily pond...”
John Kelsey [4]
“...the pretty pastel colours of cake-icing or interior domestic paint...”
Catherine Wood [5]
“How does a red, green, yellow, and pink akimbo tower that takes its noisy palette from a 99-cent-store Hanson mirror (yes, the Hanson of the nineties with its girly boy-band-brothers) make us feel when we learn that the piece is titled FRANK STELLA II (2006)?”
Johanna Burton [6]

Painter Amy Sillman recently published an essay – visceral, smart - on the look and impact of Harrison’s use of color. Here’s a taste:

“...a phallic green sculpture is goofed up by a blonde wig...”
“Harrison’s colors are jabs, spells, fast-acting drugs that kick in briefly and then are over. They are little hand grenades that detonate meaning.”
“Colors and shape are bright tools for perception and contradiction, and Harrison uses them as you would the white keys on the piano, to set the dominant pitch. Then she adds black keys, undertones, the minor emotions, like neurotic concealment, lowered expectations, disappointment, giggling, snide laughter, estrangement, or annoyance.”
“Her colors do things: they loom up, they come at you in big corporeal patches, as blobs and facades and silhouettes that confront you like an encounter with another person or their shadow.”
“Harrison uses color in both a narrative and non-narrative way.”
“To cut or to color, both are to delineate pugnacious little patches that punch you in the eye.”
Amy Sillman [7]

[1] Mark Doty, Description, in Atlantis, New York: HarperCollins, 1995
[2] David Joselit, Touch to Begin, in Banks, Eric, and Sarah Valdez, eds. Rachel Harrison: Museum With Walls, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale on Hudson; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, 2010, p. 188, 191
[3] Mark Doty, op. cit
[4] John Kelsey, Sculpture in an Abandoned Field, in If I Did It, monograph, Zurich, Migros Museum and JRP Ringler, 2007 p. 121
5Catherine Wood, The Stuff: Rachel Harrison's Sculpture, in Afterall 11. 2005, p.36-43
[6] Johanna Burton, Parkett, Zurich, No. 82, p. 153
[7] Amy Sillman, A Few Remarks on Rachel Harrison's Use of Color in Rachel Harrison: Museum With Walls, op. cit
PLEASE NOTE: All Rachel Harrison quotes on this site are from a conversation with Nayland Blake, in BOMB, No.105, Fall, pp.44-53; a conversation with Joanna Burton, Center for Future Civic Media, MIT OpenCourseWare video, published April, 16, 2009, recorded March 2007; and from Harrison's Alpert Award application.
“Maybe I’m starting to think that artworks need to unfold slowly over time in real space to contest the instantaneous distribution and circulation of images with which we’ve become so familiar.'' Rachel Harrison in Bomb Magazine

Grizzly Man (detail), 78”x72”x47”, 2009

“I think of my work as having a simultaneous dialog with the museum, the canons of art history and the supermarket.''RH

Siren Serenade (detail), 100" x 46" x 34", 2010 Photo by Brian Forrest

“A title is an object. It is another place where I can add a thing.'' RH

Conquest of the Useless (detail), 97 3/4" x 32" x 14 1/2", 2009 Photo by Jason Mandella

I am interested in the immediacy of color and what it communicates, in the way pure form can conjure particular reactions, literal, non-literal...'' RH at MIT Lecture

Pablo Escobar (detail), 99" x 22" x 23", 2010 Photo by Brian Forrest

Structural Design (detail), 58" x 33" x 28", 2010 Photo by Brian Forrest