Written by Patti Harmon, Art by Ian Harkey '12

Ian Harkey ’12

Artist Ian Harkey ’12

Title Strange Pairings V: Yuri Gagarin 1961 with Barnacles

Medium Color Pens

Size 23" x 22"

Created 2013

Artist Ian Harkey ’12, a self-described “history nerd,” devoured courses at Sarah Lawrence—from “The Fall of the Roman Empire” with David Castriota (art history) to “Picturing Nature” with Charles Zerner (environmental studies)—and continued to read voraciously after graduation. At the time he created Strange Pairings V: Yuri Gagarin 1961 with Barnacles, depicting the pioneering Russian cosmonaut, Harkey was captivated by pivotal moments of the Cold War and still inspired by classes with Jefferson Adams (history).

“Then I thought about the natural landscape, especially the sea, where creatures like the horseshoe crab and lobster have remained unchanged for millions of years,” he says. Fascinated by this dichotomy of what humans find momentous and the continuity of nature, Harkey began juxtaposing historic events with immutable sea creatures.

“Sarah Lawrence fostered a curiosity that allowed me to see the connections between the pairings of disparate subjects,” he says. “The first man in space is an incredible human achievement thousands of years in the making. Meanwhile, these barnacles have been sitting underwater for millions of years and have ‘seen’ these events happen.”

Harkey, who recently moved to Brooklyn from his native Jackson, Mississippi, creates paintings, drawings, and woodblock prints. In addition to his own projects, he has taken commissions from fellow alumni. Eileen Townsend ’12 hired him to illustrate a series she wrote for Memphis magazine, and musician Chris Faroe ’09 collaborated with Harkey on artwork for his latest album, drawings that were also featured on a series of limited-edition postcards. “Sarah Lawrence,” Harkey says, “fosters a tight-knit community.”