If you meet up with artist and retired educator Annie S. Harris, it’s likely you’ll leave with a unique treasure. Harris says she always sends people home with something after a coffee date or chance meet-up.
She’s gifted hand-drawn bookmarks and painted wine bottles. One day on a visit to Atlanta, she met a woman wearing a T-shirt she had created. The woman explained how her friend had given her the shirt as a gift, and after chatting with Harris, she walked away ready to purchase a few more.
Harris likes to tell people that she didn’t take many art classes in school. She didn’t earn a degree in the subject. Rather, art found her in a time of great need.
“When you go through something pretty traumatic, you need a way to get out of it and do something amazing,” explains Harris, who first picked up a pad and pencil after going through a divorce. “When you want to keep your family in school, you do things to keep them happy and get them and yourself through. Doing art gave me a chance to express myself and do what I like to do. It was good for me on the inside.”
Harris spent 16 years at Godby High School as a teacher, and later, an assistant principal. She left for 11 years to work in the Brevard County school system as a principal before returning to Tallahassee as Leon County’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
She has showcased works across the city, including the Artport Gallery, FAMU’s Claude Pepper Center, and now, at the City Hall Art Gallery which re-opens to the public this month. The “Common Ground” exhibition, presented by the Council on Culture & Arts (COCA), is the first one back at City Hall since last March’s COVID-19 shut-down.
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