Erika Harrsch

Teaching Artist-in-Residence, Winter–Spring 2021

Our lives, cultures and backgrounds, home territories, the paths created and traced by our parents and ancestors—all of these things lead us to the place where we are today. During the course of her residency, Erika Harrsch invites participants to consider their impact on the natural environment and engages them in creative activities to reflect on the complex and emotional topic of immigration, inspired by the exhibition Border Cantos | Sonic Border: Richard Misrach | Guillermo Galindo.

Harrsch is a New York–based multidisciplinary artist; she was born and raised in Mexico City, and has lived in Italy, Germany, and Brazil. Her pieces are infused with multilayered references and narratives concerned with individual and cultural preoccupations, as well as critical political and environmental issues.

For Harrsch, migrating is an existential and creative necessity. She combines the art, science, and politics of human and animal migration through the metaphor of the monarch butterfly, whose migratory route and very existence are connected to human concerns and actions. For years she has followed the migration patterns of these fascinating creatures and has frequently travelled back and forth across the US-Mexico border. Her voyages, however, require a passport and are regulated by border patrol; she cannot transcend the border like the monarch butterfly.

Harrsch’s work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions, including shows at the Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colorado), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, Massachusetts), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York City, New York), Museo del Barrio (New York City, New York), Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, Nevada), Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, Connecticut), Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, New York), Bellevue Arts Museum (Bellevue, Washington), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Querétaro (Santiago de Querétaro, México), Göteborg Konstmuseum (Gothenburg, Sweden), Musée de la Photographie (Charleroi, Belgium), and Seoul Museum of Art (Seoul, South Korea), among others.


Public Programs, Workshops, & Performances

Virtual Artist Talk with Erika Harrsch
Saturday, March 6, 2pm
Erika Harrsch, who was born in Mexico City and is now based in New York City, is a multidisciplinary artist who employs both traditional and contemporary media and technologies. She uses butterflies as a metaphor for themes such as gender, migration, nationality, and the relationship human beings have with their own nature and fragility. Join the artist for an illustrated talk about her creative aesthetic and ideological journey, followed by a Q&A.

Virtual 3-Tree Art Workshop with Erika Harrsch
Sunday, March 21, 2pm
Draw a “persona-portrait” representing who you are, where you are from, and your background, in this workshop led by Teaching Artist-in-Residence Erika Harrsch. Inspired by the Surrealist “exquisite corpse” drawings, this exercise uniquely incorporates the idea of the genealogical family tree, a visual representation of a person’s lineage, as a way to learn family history in relation to historical events and culture. All you need is paper and pencils, markers, or pens, and this creative drawing collaboration will lead to unpredictable and interesting results!

United States of North America Passport: Installation and Live Performance
Saturday, April 24, 12:30–4:30pm
Saturday, May 8, 12:30–4:30pm
In 2009, Teaching Artist-in-Residence Erika Harrsch created United States of North America, an interactive installation whose centerpiece is a fictitious passport that joins the three continental NAFTA members—Canada, USA, and Mexico—under the emblem of the monarch butterfly and in a unified realm, absent of geopolitical borders. This piece expands boundaries, questions the concept of nations, reflects on the NAFTA treaty, and encourages conversations about immigration. The monarch butterfly, known for its migration between Canada and Mexico, symbolizes multi-national, multi-generational migrations that are becoming ever more frequent with the ease of constant mobility in today’s globalized world. At the HRM, the artist will invite visitors to participate in the installation, where they will spin a wheel of fortune for the chance to win a prize: an original limited-edition passport—an ironic nod to lottery visas, the unpredictable nature of illegal entry into the United States, as well as the often illogical immigration policies of the US. To be held in the HRM Courtyard, where strict social distancing guidelines will be observed; masks are required.

Migration and Hope: A Virtual Panel Discussion of the Documentary Nómadas
Sunday, April 25, 2pm
The 2019 documentary Nómadas (Nomads) follows some of the world’s most charismatic animals as they travel to and from Mexico across the span of a year. Using unprecedented access to some of the country’s most protected sites, the film explores the relationship between family members as they battle to survive. Mixing moments of exquisite intimacy with fast-paced action sequences, Nomads captures the epic scope of Mexico’s wildlife while it reflects on two of the most pressing issues of our time: migration and the state of our fragile natural environment. Writer and director Emiliano Ruprah and producer Paula Arroio will be joined by HRM Teaching Artist-in-Residence Erika Harrsch, whose art uses the monarch butterfly as a metaphor for the universal condition of migration and metamorphosis. We invite you to watch the feature-length film Nómadas (81 minutes), in the original Spanish, with English subtitles, presented by Oscura Producciones & Earth Touch in Association with Smithsonian Networks, during the week preceding the virtual panel discussion (available from 10am Sunday, April 18 to 10pm Saturday, April 24) by registering for the panel through the HRM website. You will be sent a private password-protected link for access to the film by email. This event is available only to viewers who are located in the United States, as the documentary has limited distribution before its global release.


Family Studio: Art Workshops

Virtual Family Studio Art Workshop: Migrant Butterflies
Saturday, March 20, 1:30pm
Friday, April 2, 2pm
Monarch butterflies migrate every year from the US and Canada to central Mexican forests. In a hands-on workshop, learn about this marvelous migratory phenomenon and create paper butterflies. Designed by Teaching Artist-in-Residence Erika Harrsch. Materials required: construction paper, pencil, markers, scissors, and glue. Recommended for ages 5+.

In-Person Family Studio Art Workshop: Personal Passport
Sunday, April 25, 1–3:30pm
Saturday, May 1, 1–3:30pm
Create a passport for your ideal country! Design and draw your national emblem in this hands-on workshop and learn about passports and how these documents confer identity and help us travel to other countries. Designed by Teaching Artist-in-Residence Erika Harrsch and facilitated outdoors with the help of our Junior Docents. Materials and instructions provided. This program will be socially-distanced; masks are required. Recommended for ages 5+.


Support provided by Art Bridges.