Scholar’s Den Exhibit – Erica Harney

Artist Biography

Erica Harney (b. Westchester County, New York, 1984) holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting from Alfred University, Magna Cum Laude and an MFA in Drawing and Painting from Pennsylvania State University. She has also studied at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. She is currently based in Philadelphia.

Solo exhibitions have taken place at The Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Harrisburg, VARGA Gallery (Woodstock, NY) and the Estate Yard Gallery in Castlecomer, County Kilkenny, Ireland. In 2011 she organized a massive solo exhibition called Here Comes the Sun: Exhibition to Benefit the Killian Mansfield Foundation at the Greenpoint Gallery in Brooklyn. Notable group exhibitions include several other New York City galleries, such as the Coleman Burke Gallery, Sara Meltzer Gallery, Kathleen Cullen Fine Art Gallery and James Cohan Gallery. Currently, her work can be seen at JAG Modern (Philadelphia, PA), Beacon Art Shortwave Gallery (Stone Harbor, NJ), Hershey Medical Center (Hershey, PA) and Upstate Medical University (Syracuse, NY).

In addition to independent studio work, Erica Harney has worked collaboratively with visual artists, musicians, writers, and choreographers. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Graham Endowed Fellowship, a Daniel J. Murphy II Award for Creativity, a Christos N. Apostle Grant. She has been featured in several publications, including Studio Visit Magazine, and recently curated a group exhibition at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY called Under the Rug: A Look at Institutional Dishonesty.

Following an adjunct teaching position at Penn State, Harney spent several months traveling the US and Europe including professional residencies at the Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut and the Palazzo Rinaldi Artists’ Residency in southern Italy. She is also a two-time alum of the Vermont Studio Center. She has assisted on projects with the world-renowned City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and is a professional scenic painter for regional theatre companies including Opera Philadelphia and the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA.


Artist Statement

 Reality is a matter of perspective: it all depends on how you how you perceive it. Such is the creative impetus for my work. A friend once stated,

“Shaping one’s own reality, is in fact, a creative act. And living in a world one has created can be as enjoyable as writing a symphony. Imagine, revise, revive, validate, remember, forget, seek refuge, seek certainty. It is the ongoing search for truth amid illusion. It is creating an elephant from a lump of stone – both difficult, and endlessly meaningful.”

I approach my work as a sort of visual diary of existential research. Each painting is like a scene or episode based on a subjective and often romanticized sense of reality and history. In addition to my own subjective narrative, I also draw from the way “reality” is portrayed in film, theatre, television, and social media. Because of my recent return to scenic painting for operas, plays and musicals, my studio work is becoming increasingly theatrical and recreates events and ideas in a cerebral landscape resembling a stage. These images are eccentric and eclectically varied, oscillating between representation and the surreal. Equally significant are nuances of construction and editing, artificial adhesion and repair, or ‘jury-rigging’ a convincing cohesiveness, reminiscent of how we build and shape our individual realities. The way I create work reflects the ways in which we perceive, preserve, and present our preferred version of reality to ourselves and others: like the proverbial tree falling in the woods, it is in our nature to believe that our existence as we know it is only realized if it is understood and accepted by those other than ourselves.


Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.” – Douglas Adams


Exhibition Description

This exhibition will feature a selection of paintings created over the past four years. In addition to large, independent works, this show will include a sampling of watercolors and small works from the artist’s ongoing series “Skyscapes” and “Postcards to Love Ones.”

For more information, contact the artist. EMAIL: WEBSITE:

For more information on displaying art in the Health Sciences Library please contact Olivia Maggio at or by phone 315-464-7200.


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