"Born in the Bronx, Harris was raised between New York City and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He graduated with a BA from Wesleyan University and received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
In January of 1993, "Face: Lyle Ashton Harris" was exhibited at the New Museum. The installation combined photography, video and an audio track offering a critique of masculinity and explore constructions of sexuality, race, and gender. In the fall of 1994, Harris exhibited The Good Life in New York. The show was composed of large format Polaroids depicting staged and impromptu photographs of friends and family members. One of the most notable works from the show is a triptych series in collaboration with his brother, Thomas Allen Harris, entitled "Brotherhood, Crossroads, Etcetera". The work weaves a complex visual allegory that invokes ancient African cosmologies, Judeo-Christian myths, and taboo public and private desires."