Profile: Matthew Angelo Harrison (1989-)

Matthew Angelo Harrison is an American artist living and working in Detroit, MI. His work investigates analog and digital technologies to explore ancestry, authenticity, and the relationship between African culture and African-American culture.

Life and work

Harrison was born in Detroit, Michigan, where he currently lives and works. After earning a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012, Harrison worked at Ford Motor Company prototyping clay models for cars and car parts. His past work with machinery and industrial design continues to inform and inspire his artistic process today.  In his work, Harrison explores issues of race, design, mortality and industry by making use of various technologies. Inspired by the notion of an “abstract ancestry,” Harrison focuses on collecting relics and symbols of African American culture that can be re-contextualized or re-simulated.

Bodies of Work

In his “Dark Silhouettes” series, Harrison “encapsulates” dissections of African tribal sculptures in subtly tinted resin blocks. Some of the figures, heads and masks come from Makonde and Dogon tribes while others are of unknown origin. Harrison then slices through or burrows holes, with a CNC router, into some of the blocks producing unique forms and evoking diverse places and times.

In his “Dark Povera” series, Harrison scans African artifacts and then reproduces them with his homemade low-resolution 3D printers. In contrast to most 3D printers, which print with silicone and other strong synthetic plastics, Harrison’s hand-made printers utilize a wet clay, creating a finished product that is an imperfect, abstracted reproduction of the original artifact.

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