Loree Harrell

Sometimes you can draw a perimeter around a thing and what falls inside is enough. Loree Harrell has lived all of her life in a thirty mile radius of where she sits right now. Thirty miles to the east, thirty miles to the south, thirty miles to the west. Most of the all of the days spent within ten miles of right now. While not unaware or uninterested in what lies beyond, this is where she lives, and what forms and feeds her art and her words.

There was a river – there is a river – and a studio in an old school on the side of a road. There was a tiny house on a scenic highway, much-loved dogs and trees and two more rivers, and, in the background of it all, one fine mountain. These were what defined, informed, surrounded, held.

In 1994, Harrell was solidly ensconced in a corporate career and being offered a publisher’s position in Las Vegas, with her only hesitation being whether she was willing to do five or ten years in Vegas, or hold out for a slot closer to home and heart. Just then, a series of fortuities led her to a beautiful log house on a sweet spot of the Sandy River. The river won. Two days after moving in, she knew the river and the job couldn’t exist in the same space and she tendered her resignation, and went to the river to write. One year later, almost to the day, she received word that Body Speaking Words would be published in the spring.

In 2000, she set up a writing studio in a classroom in the old Springdale School. One day, in the lull of a story, she was scribbling to get her hand and brain moving together, and she saw a glimmer in the scrawl that seemed like it was maybe something. The art took over from there like it had just been waiting in the background for her to notice. For the next four years, she spent fifty to a hundred hours a week with ink and oil and acrylic and canvas and paper.

There was a move of home and loss of studio at the end of 2004, followed by a year of casting about for a voice for the art in the much diminished available space of the home studio. With just a whisper of 2005 left, she put woodstain on paper and knew she had found her medium of choice, completing over a hundred paintings in the following four years.

Always, there were the daily hikes to the woods and river with the dogs – the pack having grown from one to two to now four - always with a camera if it wasn’t mid-downpour, and then, when the camera smashed on the rocky river beach, with the cell phone, trying to capture glimpses of the delight and peace of those walks. Consistent with pattern, The Mirror Project appeared on the first day of 2010, as her attempt to tell a part of the story, to show a bit of the magic that can sometimes fall inside the perimeter of an ordinary life.

And then in June of 2013, another happy conjunction of circumstance birthed the Environs project – hand-colored with ink and woodstain on grayscale prints of the Mirrors.

Harrell feels that the work is, in the most literal sense, leading. From inception and through each incarnation, the next thing to be done has revealed itself, always unexpectedly, as a new trail to explore. Her job is step to step to step and some days you arrive in a place.

Inside the perimeter of a thing.


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