Born in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood in 1943, David Harrison moved to then early Brookfield in 1949 where his father, an engineer for Allen Bradley, had built a home in an early subdivision situated in a pasture. From an eight-room schoolhouse in Elm Grove, he graduated from a 36 room St. Mary’s Grade School as one of 120 students in the eight grade. He found his education in high school and college at St. Francis Seminary on the Milwaukee’s Lake Michigan shoreline. Having taught grade school at two diocesan parishes, he began his long 32-year career as an English instructor at Arrowhead High School in Hartland Wisconsin.
His early summer years were spent backpacking in the mountains of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah. After joining the Chicago Mountaineering Club in 1983, he started rock climbing and spent many expeditions climbing in the mountains of Alaska, Peru, Bolivia, Tajikistan, Siberia, British Columbia and the Yukon. He edited the Chicago Mountaineer for several years as well as editing a creative writing journal for his high school during this time.
During the teaching years, he studied theater staging and lighting at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis Minnesota. The influence of his experience led to his work with his high school’s drama productions, the Lake Country Players and the Waukesha Civic Theater. This time saw him as the first president of the Nordic Ski Club of Milwaukee when he began developing cross-country ski trails for the Department of Natural Resources in the South Kettle Moraine State Forest. He competed avidly at cross-country ski races throughout the Midwest and completed 13 American Birkebeiner ski races in Hayward Wisconsin. His ski experience led to his participation on the USSA Central Division Board of Directors.
It was during this period that he amassed his collection of his 35mm mountaineering slides that exceed 15,000 pictures. In addition he found subject matter in noted gardens and the work of Bill Radler, noted rosarian, at a time when the digital revolution was developing.
Harrison had always wanted to print his photos for framing, but his busy life style prevented him from accomplishing it until he visited Skagway Alaska in the summer of 2004. It was in an art gallery that that he discovered the wonders of software manipulation and the technical artistry available through digital imaging, a process that uses fade-resistant archival inks and acid free papers that allow him to create works of museum quality.
After he retired in 2000, Harrison began digitizing his slide collection for use on his computer; but now, he employs his pictures in his creative process in his art.
Since 2005, he has been experimenting with design, color, light, shadows, layers of images, movement for the sheer pleasure of it. As he told his sister, Susan Voegeli – a noted Wisconsin watercolorist artist, “I just want to do this art for the mere pleasure of doing it. I just want to see how far I can go with it.”
He continues his jaunts to the gym, his volunteer work at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and his participation in the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band as he pushes into his 7nd year. He looks forward to skiing double diamond trails in the mountains each winter.
After a high school teaching and world-wide mountaineering career, I discovered the art of digital imaging at a small gallery in Skagway, Alaska. Soon afterwards, I discovered Adobe Photoshop and slide scanners and digital cameras and now phone cameras.
All my work begins with a natural setting that evolves into complex abstract derivatives of selected images and then into multiple layered images. It calls upon my photographic and my high school theatrical lighting backgrounds for composition and effect with a reflection of pulsing colors, lines of light, shadows, movement of light. My images need to dance with a continuous revelation to revel in the hidden nuances of the power found in these settings. I want the unusual juxta-positions of colors not only to bathe but also to seduce the viewer. But most of all I see the results as my re-discovery of drama and emotion.
All my work is processed at my home studio, where whatever the source of my image, I use Adobe Photoshop to resurrect the original drama and emotion of the moment – whether that source is a faded Kodachrome slide, a blurred cell phone file, a SLR production, or an image that a friend wants me to work on for wall art.
As the slump in art sales recently increased my market presentation needed a complete makeover. I contacted Lab Apollo on a venture seeking a new presentation for my work. Eric and Torre were more than willing to pitch in to assist. With their help we developed a product that employed their state of the art Durst Lambda large format printer using an RGB laser emulsion process to etch brilliant colors onto a metallic substrate. The image is then laminated and mounted between a 3mm layer of PVC and a 95% UV filtering 3mm layer of acrylic. The work is stunning when inserted into a floating frame.
The images rendered with this article reflect the current direction of my derivative expressions, some of which have been produced, others in the pipeline waiting for production. My images are printed in very limited or single print editions. My work appears in outdoor venues throughout the Midwest.
9140-B W. Elm Ct.
Franklin, WI 53132