Jan Harrison, Cat With Raw Nose sculpture, 2006

Anima/​Animus; the strange and beautiful world of Jan Harrison

by Donatella de Rosa

The stuff of dreams… slithering reptilian creatures, soulful dogs, enigmatic cats, poignant and terrifying primates, all reflecting and sharing our deepest imaginings and cravings, our primal fears and pain. These are the images and emotions we keep hidden, but they steal into our dreams unannounced, emerging at our most vulnerable moments — the anima/​animus — our shadow figure, our soul. These archetypes are deeply rooted in the indelible beauty of the paintings and sculpture of Jan Harrison.

Harrison’s pastels, encaustic paintings and animal sculptures explore the essence of being both animal and human. She delves into the obscure depths of our collective psyche and melds the two worlds with a searing intensity. Her work has a strangely exquisite, eerie charm as it stuns us with its beauty.


Jan Harrison, The Corridor Series Primate #56

The Corridor Series Primate #56


Many artists explore the psyche, the subconscious inner world that can emerge in our dreams and nightmares. Jan Harrison explores all this and takes us further, to a place where animals are endowed with the anguish of self knowledge. We relate to her creatures with empathy and passion, they are like us — they are us.

In Jan’s world there is little division between animal and human — she speaks animal — both with her imagery and literally in her performance of “Animal Tongues”.


Jan Harrison, Tiny Snow Leopard #1, 2011 Private Collection

Tiny Snow Leopard #1, 2011 Private Collection


There is a powerful purity, an intimate authenticity in the primacy of her work. This is the natural world, our inner truth, a world that captivates us and elucidates the duality of existence. Startling us, we descend into a primeval plain – a hidden place that still exists somewhere deeply buried in our sensibility. The effect is profoundly personal, a mysterious journey into the self.


Jan Harrison, Owl, The Corridor Series, Private Collection

Owl, The Corridor Series, Private Collection

Jan Harrison, Self-Portrait With Animal Eye

Self-​​Portrait With Animal Eye


It’s no wonder then, that the work of this exceptionally gifted artist will be included in two upcoming shows in the Hudson Valley.

KMOCA Gallery’s new show, “Other Than Human,” in Kingston’s trendy Rondout District opens this Saturday, June 2 with an Artists Reception: 5 – 7 pm… Jan Harrison will be performing in Animal Tongues at the opening. www​.kmoca​.org

Jan will also be included in The Hudson Valley Artists 2012 exhibition, “Dear Mother Nature,” curated by Linda Weintraub at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in the Alice and Horace Chandler Gallery and North Gallery. June 23 — November 4, 2012. www​.newpaltz​.edu

Jan Harrison, Fred, The Corridor Series, 2009, Private Collection

Fred, The Corridor Series, 2009, Private Collection


Jan Harrison

Jan Harrison

Jan Harrison’s paintings, sculpture, and installations involve a personal and universal myth which focuses on empathy with the animal nature and the animal/​human interface. She sings in Animal Tongues, which has been performed and included as part of installations. Her work has shown in over one hundred and twenty exhibitions, including Animal.Anima.Animus, which opened in Finland and was exhibited in Holland, Canada, and at PS1, in Long Island City, NY. www​.janharrison​.net

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