Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Christine Harris

35: Christine Harris

Create a series of watercolor paintings exploring the secret lives of pigs

Hi! I’m Christy. I’m a farmer and painter based in Vergennes, Vermont. I work in watercolor and my subject is the natural world and human’s relationship with her. I farm because I love feeling connected to the land and animals that sustain us. I aim to answer the questions: Why are we so separate from the land? What creatures, beings, and plants can bring us back?

My artistic mantra is “here & the same”. My work fits under this slogan because of what I am not trying to change. Innovation builds, but earth grounds. My life and work is about returning to the earth and finding my place in the land. My work is sensory, derived from lived experience, coming home to myself and the land, far from striving. This is how I see.

Life takes me outside, usually onto a farm or mountain, sometimes close to home, sometimes across an ocean. I explore the richness and depth of agriculture and the relationships between farmer, animal, and earth. And I pet a lot of pigs!

Project description

In a series of 8-12 watercolors I will open a window to the daily life on a farm from the perspective of the animals. Working at Agricola Farm in 2022 I learned all about the secret life of pigs: their politics, social organizations, family life, quirky games and behaviors. I began to live a sustainable agriculture where animal’s well-being is central, there is harmony between the land, animals and the farmer, and the community is nourished.

There is a reality where animals are allowed to experience their essence, have names and express their individual personalities, while also continuing to be part of the life cycle at the farm. This is what I aim to express. In opening the viewer to farm life, my work welcomes the wider community to farming. The viewer becomes part of our experience, and, in turn, our product quite literally becomes a part of them.

Paintings begin with a moment. I may be inspired by color, light, or pig behavior that struck me on the farm. I begin my paintings with observation. Next, I take photographs on my filthy iPhone, walk in the pasture, and sketch in my notebook until I focus on one idea. I spend time with the animals getting to know them and giving them lots of pets. I begin my paintings with rough sketches. I then draw my idea with light paint. Next, I complete the background. I like to layer the paint, use big and free brushstrokes, and especially enjoy the experience and the animals I am celebrating!

My work seeks to ground and reconnect with the earth. In farming and painting I aim to return to the physical experience of being alive. Painting represents a journey of discovering a life rich with connection to land, animals, people, and place. By promoting animal welfare and sustainable agriculture I hope to continue our society towards a change that can mitigate climate changes, feed communities, build communities and promote human-earth harmony.

Media Sample 1

CH Two Pigs. “Two Pigs shows how pigs pal around and their various moods and states, as well as their close knit relationships.”

Media Sample 2

CH Pig Party. “Pig Party shows how pigs coexist together, their healthy outdoor homes, and how they radiate joy when they are allowed to be themselves.”

Media Sample 3

CH Ducks in Pond. “Two Ducks shows the natural peace in moments at the farm, the light colors of June, and the various parts of the farm.”

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Acadia Klepeis August 22, 2023