GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Raised as a life-long Michigan resident, two major themes have impacted Carole Harris’s life work, her mother and the city she was raised and lives in — Detroit. Both have become influential markers for Harris’s success in fabric art through quilts.

“My work relies on improvisation. I am fascinated by the rhythms and energy created when I combine multiple patterns and textures,” Harris said. ​“I let the material and colors lead me on a rhythmic journey.” 

Harris learned to embroider and sew from her mother and during inspiration for her art through photographs of Detroit. Since making her first quilt in 1968, she’s explored the artistic possibilities that fabric and thread can weave together.

“Three layers, that’s what makes a quilt — a bottom, a middle batting, and a top. Stich those three together and you’ve got a quilt,” Harris said. “Now what you do with it after, that is where the real creativity comes in.” 

That creativity is now on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in the newest installment of their Michigan Artist Series, Carole Harris: Bright Moments. The work will be featured through June 18th and allow visitors to feel the inspirations of her work — architecture, music, color, and the urban environment.

Carole Harris/Courtesy, GRAM

“Working with cloth is clearly a joyful experience for Carole,” GRAM Assistant Curator Jennifer Wcisel said. ​“She loves fabric and has amassed a considerable collection of materials in her studio. She improvises as she works, layering her materials together with no preconceived ideas or plans. The works on view at GRAM in Carole Harris: Bright Moments are a collaboration between Carole and her materials — she lets the fabric guide her journey to the finished quilt.” 

Visitors will not only get a chance to learn what inspired Harris but to see the processes and materials that were used to create the art. Videos, pictures and didactics will guide the exhibit which brings textiles from across the world together — United States, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

See the Michigan Artist Series exhibit anytime the GRAM is open or take advantage of two unique workshops for Carole Harris: Bright Moments:

Saturday Studio Session: Creative Quilting
WHEN: Saturday, March 26 — 10:30 am – 1 pm
ADMISSION: $35, Members receive 20% off
WHAT: Join GRAM Studio to create a unique quilt that tells your story. Gain inspiration from the contemporary quilted works in Carole Harris: Bright Moments, then explore colorful textiles and fibers to hand-sew and quilt a one-of-a-kind artwork. 

-Artist Talk: Bright Moments:
WHEN: Thursday, May 26 — 6 – 8 pm
WHAT: GRAM Members and the public are invited to join us during extended hours for an in-depth look at Carole Harris: Bright Moments. Artist Carole Harris and Assistant Curator Jennifer Wcisel will lead a conversation exploring the exhibition’s themes and ideas