Artist Couple Creates Unique Work for Art in the Barn |
Artists Lydia Harris and Michael Forehand have impressed Art in the Barn visitors for many years, but for both exhibiting their work at Greenbelt’s annual show “is a privilege.”
The Haverhill couple each create some of the unique work that helps transform the Cox Reservation each year into dazzling galleries. Harris sells distinctive lamps and purses, while Forehand makes cigar box instruments.
“The event itself is gorgeous,” said Forehand, whose “day job” is cybersecurity at Hanscom Air Force Base. “It has a lot of great local artists. What better way to look at art than going from barn to barn in a beautiful location.”
“We were looking for local art shows to get involved with,” said Harris, who began exhibiting at Art in the Barn over 10 years ago. “Since we already knew about Greenbelt and supported the mission, it seemed like a good choice.”
In fact, her association with Greenbelt goes back to high school when she worked as an administrative assistant to Sally Weatherall, our first executive director.
A trained microbiologist, Harris’ “day job” is working as a project manager for a biotechnology company.
Her lamps are based on what she calls reuse-recycle art.
“The base of most of my lamps is silk thread spindles from looms, and I use fabric left over from quilts,” said Harris. Her purses are designed using cyanotype, a photographic printing process on fabric, from pictures she has taken.
Forehand began exhibiting his work at Art in the Barn a half-dozen years ago.
“I always loved the event and was really impressed with the quality of the work that I saw there,” he said. “When I started to make these cigar box ukuleles and guitars, they were unique enough that I thought I might have a chance of getting into the show.”
Making instruments out of cigar boxes is a practice that dates to just after the Civil War when impoverished minstrels who could not afford "real instruments" would use the discarded wooden boxes. They saw a rebirth in the Great Depression of the 1930s and today are still used by some traditional string bands.
“They are fully playable and they play in tune,” said Forehand of his instruments. “Players buy them because they are fun, but a lot of people buy them as decoration. You can look at them and enjoy them that way as well.”
Harris and Forehand have most recently been strong advocates for Greenbelt’s successful Anton Farm project in Haverhill. They supported city approval of the permanent conservation restriction on the 26-acre property.
“It is important to preserve the quality of life and the diversity of life in the ecosystem,” said Forehand. “We enjoy the properties, and seeing the (forever-preserved) open space that is still being farmed.”