by Sara Farizan
BROOKLYN-Teachers are often the ones who make a lasting impression on students lives, but when a special student is able to transform a teacher’s life, the world becomes a better place for it. New York based artist Erica Harney had the privilege of teaching a promising young art student by the name of Killian Mansfield at the New York State Summer School of the Arts/Visual Arts in 2007. Killian was an optimistic soul, often humming the Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” and gracing listeners with his talents on the ukulele. There was something else that differentiated Killian from his peers, he was battling a five year illness called synovial sarcoma, a rare breed of cancer that occurs in tendons and limb joints. Though Killian died in 2009, his spirit and unfaltering optimism stayed with Erica Harney who is now having a solo exhibition to benefit the Killian Mansfield Foundation. This one night only affair will hope to raise funding for the foundation whose mission statement is the following,”Our Guiding Philosophy is to stand as allies to the institutions and their medical and nursing staff that help children with cancer or other serious illnesses. We believe families are often uncertain how to support their child’s empowerment. Caught between their personal experiences with a suffering child, opinions from well-intentioned medical professionals responsible for following prescribed regimens, families can often feel paralyzed. To that end, we seek to provide information and fund programs that help parents to regain their place as partners and deep listeners to their child. In keeping with Killian’s vision, we believe children should be given the opportunity to be active participants in their own wellness.”
Harney will not only be displaying 200 pieces of her paintings and drawings but has also been fundraising to rent the studio space, provide food and beverage at the event and has been working hard to ensure her student’s legacy lives on. Harney’s work has been showcased around the country as well as internationally. Her work belongs to the collections of the Pennsylvania State University and private collections in twelve states, Ireland and Canada to name a few. She has been featured in several publications including Artscope, Kalliope Literary Magazine and ALT magazine marking her as a young talent whose pieces are infused with joyful and frenetic energy. Harney has said of her student “He was the embodiment of sunshine. It is to this memory that I dedicate my work.” Here Comes the Sun: Exhibition to Benefit the Killian Mansfield Foundation will be held on Monday, July 18th from 6-11 pm at the Greenpoint Gallery, 390 McGuiness Ave., Brooklyn, New York. For more information on the event and how you can help visit http://www.ericaharney.com.