Spotlight on the Arts: Dana Harris

By Melanie Anderson, Artist/Arts Educator

Dana Harris_antlers

Dana Harris

Dana Harris

Zip code 38002 has an astonishing number of accomplished artists, and Lakeland artist Dana Harris is no exception. Walking into her lovely home is like entering an art gallery with beautiful surprises around every corner. Her art is an eclectic mix that reflects influences from her many travels and experiences. Her work is decidedly feminine, connected by her unique sense of color and use of texture. Subjects range from colorful florals to textured landscapes and abstracts. Here is what she had to say about her art and life.

Dana, you are well traveled and did not grow up in Memphis. How did you arrive here?

I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended schools around the country finishing up back in Michigan to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  I married a military man who took me to California where we started our family.  From there, we traveled around the country, ending up here in the Memphis area in 2007.

Who had the biggest influence on your art?

My high school art teacher, Sue Terrell, saw promise in my ability to create and inspired me to pursue art at the collegiate level.  Without her encouragement, I may not have pursued art at all.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

It’s one thing to go to school and get an art degree.  It is another thing entirely to decide you want to become an artist.  It hit me when my family and I were living in Carmel, California.  The immense beauty of the landscape affected me deeply, and Carmel has an abundance of art galleries…1 for every 17 citizens.  I wanted to capture every part of that environment by painting it, and began to seek out opportunities to learn this craft.

Dana Harris_flowersWhat inspires you and your art?

I find inspiration in my life experiences and my many travels.  Additionally, my garden provides daily material to fuel my creative energies.

What was the proudest moment of your life?

My proudest moments were giving birth to three beautiful daughters.  More proud moments happen everyday as I watch them grow into young ladies.

How have your travels influenced your art?

Seeing something new excites me and allows me to see a different perspective on life.  I try to bring that new perspective into my work.

What three adjectives describe you best?

Creative, Outgoing, Passionate

What three adjectives describe your art?

Colorful, Eclectic, Textured

Dana Harris_balletHow has living in the Memphis area affected your work?

It was challenging to move here from such an art-centered community like we had out west.  The art scene in Memphis is not as obvious to a new resident.  I had to work hard at networking and seeking out venues to get my work noticed.  Along the way, I found out how deep the art community is here.  Memphis fuels my hunger for relevance because I realize how many amazing artists live and work here.  I am painting more now than I ever have in my life.  Memphis pushes me towards greatness.

Do you have a favorite artist past or present?

I love JW Waterhouse because of his beautiful depictions of women in nature.

Do you have a specific mentor? How has that person influenced you?

Erin Gafill from Big Sur, California has had a tremendous impact on my painting.  Erin is relentless – she paints, writes, teaches, travels, and shows her work in as many places as she can.  Her ambition, energy, and success motivate me to keep going.

Dana Harris StudioWhere is your studio?

I am currently painting at the Art Factory in Midtown.

Do you have an activity, other than creating beautiful art, that is at the top of your list?

While I still feel that it IS creating beautiful art (my backyard as the canvas), I will spend much time in my garden.  I absolutely love it.

Do you have personal favorites in your extensive body of work?

Nope. I love them all (even the ones I don’t particularly like) because they are all a part of my journey.

Name one goal you’d still like to accomplish…

I would love to study at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.

Do you have any upcoming shows or festivals?

I will have a booth along with artist Melanie Anderson at the upcoming Cooper-Young Festival in September.

 What do you see on the horizon for you and your art?

Traveling and doing art shows in other regions of the country while working hard to get my work represented at the national level.


You can find Dana’s work in collections all over the country including that of Clint and Dana Eastwood. To see more go to  Her work will be available at the Cooper Young Festival on September 19th.


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