Amina Harper is an artist from Minneapolis, MN and she’s been working as a professional artist for 14 years now. She’s into anime, collectable toys, the color pink, and quirky interior design.
Hi Amina! Lovely to have here. Could you tell us a little bit wabout your approach and work?
My approach? I guess I believe that in order to make the work that I want to make I have to take in a lot of images. Meaning that I have to look at a lot of different things to broaden not only my awareness of how much diverse imagery I can utilize in my work, but that it’s the imagery I’m drawn to that informs parts of my identity that I may not otherwise notice. For example, for some reason, I’m really attracted to egg imagery, but not just as an object, as a concept. The egg as a container of life, the egg as round, spherical and feminine, the egg as food at the center of a delicious meal. I realized that I’m being drawn to egg imagery because my mother died last year and eggs were the first food she ever taught me to cook. It’s a bizarre feeling attempting to put those pieces together, and sometimes they click into place without you realizing it.
And now here I am collecting strange reference photos of eggs and egg themed art that I find intriguing in the hopes of making a painting that has yet to formulate in my mind. The pieces always click together in time, I’ll find the story eventually.
What about these particular pieces? How do you want people to feel when they observe them?
The Euphoria series is basically three illustrations of a mounting orgasm. The characters are both tangible, having real physical experiences, and also allegories of those experiences. I can’t control how people observe these paintings, and for the most part, no one who has encountered them is comfortable talking about their blatant sexual nature. Usually, viewers fall back on the colors and details, no one really wants to discuss the intimacy or the desire and lust. Namely, and this is just a hypothesis, because in order to do that they would have to admit that these sexual feelings are ones they’ve experienced and can relate to. The audience, in acknowledging the sex, would have to publicly open themselves up to the truths about their own sexual experiences in order to connect with the majority of the work's narrative; that’s a very vulnerable place to be in when you aren’t the one controlling the paintbrush.
But that’s one of the things I love about the work I make, and what I continue to aspire to. You can’t fully engage with my work if you aren’t prepared to open yourself up in one way or another. I want people to stretch a little, to leave different than when they came.
Our intention this month is “Perspective”. What does that mean to you?
Perspective means that the world is always slant. No matter who is looking, what I see will always be different from what someone else sees, even if it’s just by a slight margin. It’s exciting to see where that slant comes from, our various ways of seeing things never stops being interesting. So many stories live inside of one person’s perspective, so many memories and life experiences contextualized and re-contextualized through the flow of time.
And because of that, it’s even more interesting when someone loses their perspective. When their memories become cloudy and too difficult to recount, or when the day to day grind prevents them from sitting with themselves long enough to interrogate what they’re really feeling. To lose perspective means to lose connection with one's vessel and all the motions within it, and to be so detached from your experiences that you can’t process them and alchemize them into something that you can use to grow.
We’ve all been there, I’ve been there many times. So it goes.
How important is perspective to you?
Perspective is where we start from. It’s the path that leads us to our journey’s most defining and life altering moments. And, in order to get the most out of our journey, at some point, a part of our perspective must and will change. At the moment, it’s hard to imagine thinking differently than you do now. But that’s what’s so amazing about life; it changes and you change right along with it.
I think the most fun thing about perspective isn’t inherently how it changes, but how it can be expanded to fit nuance and reference history; nothing is ever fully left by the wayside because anything can be incorporated.
These days, when it comes to perspective, I try to let go of concerns regarding being “right” and being “wrong” and try to shift that language toward learning more and reconnecting with my inner child. Perspectives change when we know more and when we uphold what serves the highest good of the most people (including, but not limited to ourselves). I try to root my perspective in compassion and discernment as much as I can.
We’re always curious about what people are listening to. What’s your go-to right now or in general?
My music tastes really are all over the place. One day, I’ll be listening to neo-soul and the next I’ll be playing the My Hero Academia soundtracks on an endless loop while I work out. But right now, at this very moment, I’m on a black girl, pop/R&B nostalgia kick; and I’m talking songs from the 90s - early 2000s. It kicked off with Brandy’s Best Friend which is the first song I ever remembered listening to. Then it moved to Before Dark’s Baby, and Samantha Mumba’s Gotta Tell You, 702’s Where My Girls At, Blaque’s I’m Good, and so on. I remember being a tween around that time and loving the imagery in the music videos; it was all so colorful, sleek and Y2K but still being youthful and age appropriate. Especially with the girl groups, they loved this tri-color, pink, blue, and purple/green aesthetic that’s making a resurgence in fashion today (like in 3LW’s No More music video). It’s just like… sunshine, sticky lipgloss, cotton candy, and shiny, hot pink bomber jackets and halter tops.
And of course, I never stopped listening to Aaliyah and the Spice Girls first album. It’s just all so maximalist and fun.