Grassroots Art Center

Harper Hair

by Dr. Richard J. Bay

Professor of Art & Art Education

Radford University, Radford VA


I have many memories of working, teaching and learning from Harper Hair. Some of those memories are wonderful while others are quite painful. Yet, I have never been so amazed at one individuals need to create as when I was in Harper’s presence. Harper Hair is larger than life (he also larger than me and I’m over 6’ 2” tall). When he speaks he can be as articulate as a barrister presenting his case or babble in endless syllables that have only meaning to him. He also can be quiet, introspective and reserved. I watched him create in excess of several thousand art works over a two year period, these too varied from turbulent compositions to simple line drawing, elegant and gentle. What Harper Hair produced needed to be made and he found the means to let those expressions emerge. Many times I thought to myself…I’m not here to teach him, my job is to keep him supplied with materials.