Holly Harris mixes art and the Holy Spirit to help others heal

Holly Harris mixes art and the Holy Spirit to help others heal

Holly Harris, a junior at UNC, uses her art skills and Christian faith to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey and the Las Vegas shooting.

Holly Harris, a junior majoring in art at UNC-Chapel Hill, uses her art skills and Christian faith to give toward families affected by Hurricane Harvey and victims in the Las Vegas shooting.

“You hear the number of the death toll and store it away as more pain,” she said.

Holly Harris. Photo courtesy of Holly Harris.

But when Harris heard about the Las Vegas shooting, she “wanted to understand how to view it the way God was viewing it.”

Harris said she didn’t know how to handle her emotions, but she would constantly go back to the Bible verse Romans 8:26. The verse references the Holy Spirit interceding — or negotiating — for her by praying on her behalf.

She created prints from the verse that read “groans too deep for words” to mourn with the Holy Spirit. Then, she said she thought, “What if I actually sold these to actually help heal people and feed into the relief efforts?”

Harris said she learned how to create the prints in a print class in the Hanes Art Center. She uses the printing press in the Center to create large amounts. She has made 10 prints and has sold four for $15. The donations will go to the American Red Cross.

Harris’ design before printing. Photo courtesy of Holly Harris.

The printing press Harris uses at the Hanes Art Center at UNC. Photo courtesy of Holly Harris.

“I don’t really have a goal,” she said. “If this is something that people respond to I’m willing to make more. It’s not something that I wanted to measure.”

Harris said using art and the Holy Spirit to help her and others process the recent catastrophes has guided her in properly dealing with emotional pain.

“The principal of the Holy Spirit interceding has been huge for me when I know I’m unsettled, and I don’t know how to put it into words,” she said. “And even when I don’t know how to feel pain properly, it’s so comforting that the Holy Spirit is feeling that pain when I’m too small to feel.”

“I think people carrying their individual burdens and the global burdens of pain is heavy,” Harris said. “And so having this trust that someone is taking that in my place I think is the only way that I can handle the pain in the world.”

This process of sharing her emotions through art has also encouraged her to open up about her faith.

“It’s definitely been a vulnerable thing having spirituality so overt in the artwork,” she said. “The words are literally scripture. But I think that’s why it’s a meaningful piece to me because it’s honest and it addresses how I honestly deal with pain.”

Trying to understand how to deal with pain can be difficult, but Harris was willing to risk her own comfort to  help others.

“The best art requires a little bit of bravery,” she said. “And I think this project gives me the chance to explore that.”

Harris wants to continue using her art to help reach all people, instead of one social class.

“I’m interested in art as advocacy,” she said. “Art can sometimes be something for the elite.”

But she hopes to reverse that idea by “turning it on its head and using it for the pursuit of everyone.”

To buy one of Harris’ prints, email her at hollyh@live.unc.edu or follow her on Instagram.

Michelle Dixon
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