Kip Harris

Nova Scotia, Canada | Photography

Artist Statement

When I started photographing seriously, I was drawn to situations where people were in their own workspaces. These were places where people felt most at home, most themselves. They did not need “to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.” I tried to stand and watch a little before photographing to convey my appreciation for the worker’s skill and engagement. A man’s work is his life and should be respected.

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Artist Statement Cont’d

There is a Taoist phrase: “wei wu wei,” which has been translated a number of ways but the one I like best is “doing, not doing.” When one has become a complete master of an action, he no longer has to think about how to perform the act but has become the act himself. I look for this mastery and hope to record it. Doing work with skill and love is one of the noblest acts of man.

I have been documenting people in their workplaces and places of rest since 1990. This interest has taken me to Hong Kong, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Vietnam, India, Morocco, Europe, Cuba, Jordan, and across the US and Canada. I am usually in poorer parts of cities and towns where tourists are infrequent and where it is easier to find people working along the edge of streets. I was fortunate to have been awarded a month long residency in Northern Italy as part of the Boynes Emerging Artist Award, 7th edition. My project was to document artisans and artists in the Valle Camonica. The images I have attached to this submittal were all taken during that residency and includes photos which extend my long-term project “At Work.”

My work might be best described as a mix of street photography and environmental portraiture. It is not political in the sense of showing people finding a way to improve their lot in life. It attempts to convey that work itself is a form of personal liberation.