Post Classifieds

Senior shows extensive final project

By Gabrielle Chiddy
On April 8, 2012


Buffalo State student John Harris will release his first book, "The True Survivors,"
Thursday night as part of his senior seminar, Casting Cultures, which displays his
work in metalworking and jewelry design.
Harris called the event "three-pronged," mentioning the book release, and exhibition
in Bacon Hall and a stage performance in Upton Hall.
It will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Harris' book is a fictional work about an anthropologist who studies a culture that
doesn't exist. Harris has a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, so when he started
working in jewelry, he said culture had a huge influence on the different pieces that
he created.
Harris has been working with jewelry for over four years, but is relatively new to
this kind of design. He said he believes that if you have the resources to learn a new
kind of medium, you should do it.
"All the pieces have back stories and concepts to them that really kind of spelled
everything out about the piece, you know, no piece was just a simple piece, there
was a story to it," Harris said.
Harris explained that he started forgetting some of the stories that went with some
pieces so he had to start writing them down, which eventually turned into his book.
Along with the book, Harris said he wanted to incorporate a performance, which
will take place in Upton Quad on a stage built specifically for the event. Nothing in
the performances ever happen in the book, but will still help tell the story, he said.
The book takes place in a city called Ca'Dio, the first city to exist after the
"Ninety-five percent of the population was wiped out and it took hundreds of years
to get back into building cities and big civilization again," Harris said.
The performance is about people trying to survive the streets of Ca'Dio and is
built on the concept of life, death and rebirth. One of the two characters in the
performance is a mad scientist, played by Sean Sanders, who tries to break this cycle
by attempting to find immortality.
Not only did Harris create the masks and costumes for the characters in the
performance, he also completely composed the music during the show with just one
other artist.
Harris commissioned Razbaque Dirge to help him compose and then perform the
Dirge describes the composition as "emotionally jarring and poignantly deep." He
said he hopes that it captures the mood of the performance.
Dirge has known Harris for a few years now and said that he likes his post-
apocalyptic approach in his metal work and that it should make for an interesting
Harris has been working at Frightworld America's Screampark for almost five years
now. He said that he has gotten a ton of support from them, and working there has
helped him create the whole event that will take place Thursday.
"The event is very creative," said Sanders, who has also worked at Screampark for
the past five years. "It's great to be a part of a project with Harris that is outside of
Frightworld. The performance is like nothing I've ever seen or done."
Sanders added that Harris is an exciting person to be around and is always coming
up with new and creative things, which is what makes him a unique person and a
good friend.
Every year, graduating seniors in any design program have to enroll in a senior
seminar course where they put on a solo exhibit that demonstrates their progress
and growth as a student and artist. Casting Cultures will serve as Harris' seminar.
Lecturer Gerald Mead has helped Harris through this last step.
"The senior seminar course requires students to organize, mount and market a solo
exhibition of their work," Mead said.
Mead hadn't officially met Harris until the beginning of the Spring 2012 semester.
He described Harris as a "passionate, enthusiastic, positive thinking and extremely
resourceful" individual.
"Harris possesses a rare blend of traits: the creative mind of an artist and the
practical sensibility of a businessman," Mead said.
Not only does Harris' exhibition show off his work, it also shows the public how well
rounded he is as a student and future businessman. Mead said he immediately knew
that Harris had experience and many contacts that would really help him pull off
such an elaborate event.
"It is a very ambitious solution to the exhibition requirement for the class,"
Mead said. "I applaud him for taking it on and managing to make the exhibition a
multidisciplinary event."
Harris said he hopes the audience will take away a sense of pride from the event and
the performance. He also wants students to realize how much support and effort has
gone into an event like this.
"The True Survivors" will go on sale Thursday at 6 p.m. for $15. The book will also
be available online at as well as the Barnes and Noble website. Harris
said he understands that the Internet is much easier these days but would like to
encourage people to support the local vendors. He's working with bookstores like
Talking Leaves and Queen City Books to get the book stocked there.
There will also be some jewelry on sale at the exhibit but Harris says he's somewhat
attached to the pieces from the book and doesn't know if they will be for sale in the
future. One of the feature pieces on sale is the Ankh. One of Harris' favorites, copies
have already been sold in 6 countries on 4 different continents already.
The pieces can range anywhere from $25 to $150 depending on the complexity of
the piece.
"I try to keep the prices realistic," Harris said. "I'm constantly told that I undersell
my jewelry and I don't care because at the end of the day I survive off it, I have fun
doing it and I really enjoy people wearing it."
More information about the event can be found on Facebook or at one of Harris' two
websites: or
Gabrielle Chiddy can be reached at

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