Artist CoCo Harris shares collective American story

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CoCo Harris sheds a creative light on history through art. Photo by Will Crooks.

Storytelling resides at the core of artist CoCo Harris. Growing up in Atlanta, she always felt a strong sense of story in the South.

While Harris’ art involves writing, photography, and collage, she ultimately tells a collective story across all her platforms. 

“It’s my story. It’s other people’s stories of who we are,” Harris says. “But, it’s all to share this piece of humanity so we can understand that it’s really all only one story — and that’s our human story.” 

Keeping a diary her entire life, Harris grew accustomed to looking for patterns within herself and the world around her. This shapes her art, which she considers visual extensions of her life.

“Like the diary, my artwork actually aims for more personal nature,” Harris says. “I try to get close to the bone with my projects.”

For one collage, Harris uses photographs to show good and bad things that have taken place in her family’s history since slavery.

“As an African-American, to me it’s very important to tell these stories,” she says. “I try to use my art as a tool, as a visual to graphically show some of our history.”

Erasure of this piece of American history is what Harris fears. “It’s really a shared history; it’s not just black history,” she says. “What happened to us is such a part of who we are right now today — all of us in this country.”

Compassion is the driving force behind Harris’ work. “I would love people to empathize with our collective American story and to understand this one niche, or this one slice that I’m telling, and understand how it’s actually a bigger part of this American pie.”

In Greenville, Harris would like to see underrepresented persons included in the city’s growth. “It’s really important that we remember who we were, where we came from,” she says.

Harris’ work can be seen at www.cocoharris.com.

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