Private: Spencer J. Harrison


Spencer J. Harrison is an artist, activist, and educator who has been practicing professionally for 30 years. Harrison’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. Of special significance is his project Would You Beat this Man? or more affectionately, The Fag Project, which was shown in several cities across Canada and addresses the issue of homophobia. The project is known widely as The Queer Project.

Although Harrison paints large-scale politically active human rights works, he is also known as a painter of romance. These works most commonly depict antiquated vessels in real and imagined sea and landscapes. The vessels are metaphors for the figure; with ribs and spines they are containers for emotions and like the individuals they represent, they take up space and leave behind memories in their shadows and reflections. They ask us to consider the beauty and romance in the day-to-day world which surrounds us all. Most frequently Harrison’s work is admired for his strong bold use of colours bright and dark. This work can be found in public art galleries, corporate, and private collections nationally.

He has a Bachelor of Fine Art from Queen’s University, a Master’s degree in Canadian Heritage and Development Studies from Trent. In 2014 through the Ontario Institute for Studies in education (OISE) at the University of Toronto Harrison became the first Ph.D student to complete his dissertation through artwork. The first painted Ph.D in Canada, titled The Freak Show, was exhibited in a solo show at the Art Gallery of Peterborough in recent years. This work bears witness to his experience growing up in rural Ontario using the vernacular of the circus freak show to discuss both exclusion and inclusion. Harrison lectures nationally on issues of homophobia and transphobia.

Spencer J. Harrison is currently an instructor in the Department of Drawing and Painting at OCAD University and the Co-founder of Camp fYrefly, Ontario, a camp for LGBTQ2S&A youth. This past summer he Camp fYrefly, Ontario celebrated its fifth anniversary at Trent University. His work is held in public and private collections including the Trent University Art Collection and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.



It’s All About ART: Preview Exhibition

Indwelling, 2022, mixed media, 36" x 36" (from the 2022 exhibition: Between the Lines)

It’s All About ART: Preview Exhibition

Oct 6, 2023 to Oct 22, 2023

It’s All About ART Online Auction Preview

Haze, acrylic on canvas

Some kind of honesty

"Does This Mean You Are Leaving", "When Are You Coming Back", & "Are You Ever Coming Back”, 1990

Some kind of honesty

Mar 12, 2022 to Jun 26, 2022

It’s All About ART Online Auction Preview

Bronson Smith - All about Art Online Auction 2021

It’s All About ARTISTS Preview Exhibition

String Theory, 2015, monotype on paper, 22" x 28"

Not a Freak Show: Growing Up Gay in Rural Ontario

Not a Freak Show. Photo: William J. Harrison

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