Interview with Onnissia Harries

Hello, Onnissia! Thank you for taking the time for the interview. When did art appear in your life, and what was the starting point?


Art was something I started to explore when I was very young. I remember creating elaborate cut-out paper planes and painted "lamps" made out of cutting styrofoam. I loved creating so much that I remember joining an art competition as a child. My mom bought my first canvas and paint set. I  painted this horrible-looking bridge with grass on each side and water running under it. I did not win at all, but it was fun, and I loved how it made me feel.


Your mother has influenced your creative path. Tell us a little about her. Is she your creative mentor?


I'm not sure if I'd call her a creative mentor, but she's definitely a creative influence. For example, I'm on vacation as I write this (I know, I know, I shouldn't be working, but I have a moment), and I recently spent time with her in her new home where it's FULL of color: the blues, pinks, the reds. You walk through her home, and you can see the environment I grew up in as a child. Everything is so crisp, clean, streamlined, bright, and bold.


Your choice of art as a way of life seems quite natural. Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?


Yes, I always wanted to be an artist. What is sad is that I was told early on by adults I looked up to that art is not a realistic career for a smart girl like me. They suggested that I be something like an astronaut or a lawyer. But I never stopped creating. I was always making or writing something. It wasn't until my 25th birthday that I made a commitment to myself to create every day. That commitment brought me down the path I'm on now, and I'm thankful for it.

Your bio states that you are a provocative visual artist who boldly uses sexuality and intimacy as an art form. Do you have a goal to convey some thought to people through your works?


Yes. I hope that my art helps people who feel guilt and shame about their sexuality and their bodies to feel a sense of pride. I love using silhouettes the most because it's so easy for people to insert themselves into the imagery. I want people to imagine themselves in my art, and I want them to feel powerful, bold, and full of pride.


In our modern society, many people still do not accept frankness in art. How do you feel about criticism? Does it criticize your works? Are criticism and misunderstanding a motivator for you?

Not at all. I'm at a point in my life where I don't put too much weight on what other people have to say about me or my work. I'm always open to learning and improving my method, but I'm mature enough to know that I am not for everyone, and that's 100% ok.


Tell us about the process of creation. How do you come up with the idea, and when does the implementation start?


Inspiration for art happens all around me. I've found inspiration for a pattern in the form of tape wrapped around poles and color palettes from the scene of a movie. From there, I'll play with sketching poses because I have a certain emotion or feeling that I want to express in my work, and that's where the colors and patterns I used drive the feeling I want to feel when I look at my art, and I can only hope that others feel the same way too.

You currently live in a conservative and sexually repressed region of the United States. Did it affect your creativity and your emotional state in any way?


Ohmygoodness, yes! An act as simple as choosing to go braless in public draws so much policing surveillance and unwanted attention. God forbid that I forgo wearing my constrictive boob cage to let my breasts enjoy the beauty that is the circulation of blood every once in a while. It's so mentally and emotionally exhausting. It doesn't help that my art is provocative either. It's incredibly difficult to have my work shown anywhere without some form of restriction or censorship, which defeats the purpose of why I create it in the first place. You will not believe
the number of times someone suggested that my work only be displayed in privacy (i.e., the shitter).


What do you think art will be like in the future? Will there be more freedom for authors in creating?


I'm curious about the digitizing of art. I've seen robots make more money selling art than I can ever dream of because people are fascinated with simulated artistic expression. I've also seen the meme-ing of art make millions through NFTs. At this rate, I may be obsolete in the coming years, but how can that be possible when cave drawings have lasted millennia? Anyone can make art if they're willing to take up space.


Are there any artists who have influenced you? Which of the artists is an example for you?


Not in the visual sense. I'm too worried about accidentally replicating other styles, so I try to stay away from the visual influence of other's art. It's how I've managed to create my own voice as an artist. That said, I do find beauty in how artists emotionally express themselves in other mediums. For example, the artist, Sarah Bahbah, has inspired me to be radically vulnerable in my art, but her mediums are entirely different from mine.

What projects are you working on now, and what are your plans for the future?


It's ambitious, but at some point in the next year or two, I hope to go on a tour with my artwork.


And the last question: what would you advise yourself at the beginning of your creative path, with all the experience that you have now?


I would tell myself to do my research own. My art already resonates with people, and that's what matters the most; the rest is just learning a learning curve on how to get it in front of the right people so that I can support my lifestyle.


Instagram Onnissia Harries @onnissia


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