Rachel Harrison (born 1966, New York) is an American visual artist who is primarily known for her assemblage work and sculpture, but she has also engaged in performance art and drawing, and photography. Her work often incorporates elements of photography and found objects, sometimes layering abstract forms with industrially manufactured elements. She lives and works in New York.
Harrison was born in 1966 in New York. Harrison's mother was born in New Jersey and her father was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were both of Polish and Russian Jewish descent. In 1989 she attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from Wesleyan University, where she was strongly influenced by two teachers, sculptor Jeffrey Schiff and composer Alvin Lucier.
In 1996 Harrison had her first exhibition, entitled Should home windows or shutters be required to withstand a direct hit from an eight-foot-long two-by-four shot from a cannon at 34 miles an hour, without creating a hole big enough to let through a three-inch sphere?, at the Arena Gallery in New York City founded by Art curator and dealer Renee Riccardo who said in an interview "No one at the time knew what to make of Harrison’s unusual work but many major critics including Roberta Smith of the New York Times felt compelled to write about". In this show, Harrison established her predilection for producing sculptures that juxtapose a unique combination of found, purchased, and received items. The title of the show was appropriated from a photo in The New York Times about housing improvement following the hurricane Andrew.
Since then, her works have been fabricated using a wide range of materials, such as honey, cans of peas, papier-mâché, and trash bags. By using everyday goods and objects, Harrison frequently takes on the subject of consumer culture. In an interview, she writes "I want people to be real with art, to be conscious and present with the object in order to experience it." She also often confronts popular culture and celebrity with her work. For instance, in her 2012 exhibition The Help, her pieces featured the singer Amy Winehouse and the artist Martin Kippenberger.
In 2013, Harrison received her first public art commission for the sculpture Moore to the Point in the Dallas City Hall Plaza, part of the Nasher Sculpture Center's Nasher XChange exhibition. This piece points to and frames Henry Moore's sculpture, Three Forms Vertebrae near Dallas City Hall. The work calls attention to how people interact with works of public art.
Harrison taught art classes at elementary schools for the nonprofit organization LeAp throughout the 1990s. She was hired by Columbia University in 1999, where she taught photography and later, sculpture. She has also taught in the art departments of Yale University, Cooper Union, and Bard College.
Select solo exhibitions
- Should home windows or shutters be required to withstand a direct hit from an eight-foot-long two-by-four shot from a cannon at 34 miles an hour, without creating a hole big enough to let through a three-inch sphere?, Arena Gallery, Brooklyn, New York (1996) 
- The Look of Dress-Separates, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (1997)
- Patent Pending: Beveled Rasp Sac, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (1999)
- Perth Amboy, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2001)
- Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002)
- Westward Ho, Bergen Kunsthalle, Gallery No. 5, Norway (2003)
- New Work, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2004)
- Posh Floored as Ali G Tackles Becks, Camden Arts Centre, London (2004)
- Excuse Me?, Arndt + Partner, Berlin (2004)
- Lakta/Latkas, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2004)
- Car Stereo Parkway, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2005)
- Checking the Tires, Not To Mention The Marble Nude, Galerie Christian Nagel, Köln (2006)
- When Hangover becomes Form, with Scot Lyall, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; LACE, Los Angeles (2006)
- Sometimes it Snows in April, with Michael Krebber, The McCallister Institute, New York (2006)
- Voyage Of The Beagle, Migros Museum, Zurich (2007)
- If I Did It, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2007)
- Sunny Side Up, Meyer Kaine Gallery, Vienna (2008)
- Lay of the Land, Le Consortium, Dijion (2008)
- Consider the Lobster, Hessel Museum, Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson (2009)
- HAYCATION, Portikus (2009)
- Conquest of the Useless, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010)
- Double Yolk, with Scott Lyall, Galerie Christan Nagel, Antwerp (2011)
- The Help, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2012)
- Villeperdue, Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna (2013)
- Three Young Farmers, Regen Projects, Los Angeles (2015)
Select group exhibitions
- 2004 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2004)
- 2008 Whitney Biennial (2008)
- Gloria: Robert Rauschenberg & Rachel Harrison, Cleveland Museum of Art (2015)
- America Is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art (2015)
Harrison's work can be found in a number of public institutions, including:
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Museum of Modern Art
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
- Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
- Cleveland Museum of Art
Harrison, Rachel. Rachel Harrison: Currents 30. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004.
Harrison, Rachel. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard Hessel Museum of Art. Annandale-on-Hudson, 2009.
Harrison, Rachel. Rachel Harrison: Museum with Walls. Annandale-on-Hudson: Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, 2010.
Harrison, Rachel. Rachel Harrison: Gloria. The Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, Ohio, 2015.
- "Rachel Harrison", Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Rachel Harrison and Nayland Blake". BOMB magazine. October 1, 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
- Basilico, Stefano (2002). Rachel Harrison. Milwaukee Art Museum. p. 15.
- Seifermann, Ellen. Rachel Harrison: if i did it. p. 116.
- "Rachel Harrison – Artist's Profile", The Saatchi Gallery, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- Schjeldahl, Peter (2014-12-22). "The Shape We're In". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "Renée Riccardo Neo Dealer at heart". 2019-08-15. Retrieved 2019-08-25.
- "Rachel Harrison". www.zingmagazine.com. Retrieved 2019-08-25.
- Doran, Anne. "Rachel Harrison – Reviews", Art in America, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Deep in the Art of Texas – News – Art in America". www.artinamericamagazine.com. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "Nasher XChange: Moore to the point Rachel HarrisonOctober 19, 2013 - February 16, 2014 - Exhibition". www.nashersculpturecenter.org. Nasher Sculpture Center.
- "Rachel Harrison Life Hack". whitney.org. Retrieved 2019-08-25.
- "Rachel Harrison Bio" Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, Greene Naftali Gallery, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "New Work: Rachel Harrison", SFMoMA, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Rachel Harrison: Consider the Lobster", CCS Bard, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Portikus Exhibition 163 Rachel Harrison HAYCATION" Archived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine, Portikus, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Rachel Harrison Conquest of the Useless", Whitechapel Gallery, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Rachel Harrison – Exhibitions – Greene Naftali". www.greenenaftaligallery.com. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "Rachel Harrison – Exhibitions – Regen Projects". www.regenprojects.com. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "Artist Rachel Harrison", Whitney Museum of American Art, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "America Is Hard to See May 1 – Sept 27, 2015 | Whitney Museum of American Art". whitney.org. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "Rachel Harrison – Collection Online", Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Whitney Museum of American Art: Rachel Harrison", Whitney Museum of American Art, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Rachel Harrison Untitled", The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "The Collection Rachel Harrison", Museum of Modern Art, Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- "Rachel Harrison – MOCA". Museum of Contemporary Art Collection – Rachel Harrison. March 4, 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Blanton Museum of Art Online Collections Database". collection.blantonmuseum.org. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- "Hans Haacke with Sculpture". Cleveland Museum of Art. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Pogrebin, Robin. "Calder Prize Awarded to American Artist", The New York Times, Retrieved 26 August 2014.