In Sharon Norwood’s Drawing Room at International Studio and Curatorial Program, the artist Sharon Norwood uses her own hair as material for the first time. A wall installation features two cast statuettes of African American boys, connected by a silver chain necklace. Norwood’s hair is encased in a resin ring on a gold necklace that hangs from the arm of one of the figures. The figures’ molds were found by the artist in Savannah, Georgia, leading Norwood to conclude that there was once an industry of Black craftsmakers who sold their decorative objects to a largely African American community. The minimal and intimate work in the exhibition offers recognition of an unacknowledged history of Black artisans in the United States, and connects Norwood’s own experience as an artist and maker of objects to that tradition.
Norwood works with several media including painting, printmaking and ceramic. Drawing inspiration from the shape of Black hair, her work’s starting point is often a curly line. In her abstract prints and paintings, she intertwines organic lines to act as gestural markings; in her ceramic sculptures and installations, the curly line surfaces in interwoven geometric shapes. Norwood’s formal gestures symbolically reference the Black body and its relationship to politics of labor, beauty and race.
Sharon Norwood migrated from Jamaica to Canada as a child. She creates works that exploit the decorative intentions and joy of mark-making and gesturing, disrupt the White gaze and other passive notions of viewing “the other,” and question standing narratives and systems that shape how identities are understood. In recent years, she has explored the intersection of the Black body and decorative arts by translating her drawings onto porcelain objects.
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