Sharon Norwood

 

Sharon Norwood is an artist of Jamaican ancestry whose work spans several media including painting and ceramic. Norwood attended the University Of South Florida where she obtained a BFA in painting. She has exhibited internationally, in Canada, the United States and Jamaica. Noted achievements include artist lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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photo:Teresa Ascencao

Sharon Norwood is an artist of Jamaican ancestry whose work spans several media including painting and ceramic. Norwood attended the University Of South Florida where she obtained a BFA in painting. She has exhibited internationally, in Canada, the United States and Jamaica. Noted achievements include artist lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida, participation in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s 2013 Biennial, and most recently acceptance into the 50th anniversary of NCECA’s 2016 National Student Juried Exhibition. Sharon is currently a first year MFA candidate at Florida State University. Her work can be found at www.sharonnorwood.com.

My work mainly deals with race and identity. I attempt to re-write and give a different narrative to popular images of blackness. It is like reading a book and imagining yourself as one with the characters. In my Cinderella story there are afros, curly kinks and chocolate skin tones. It is a very different image than popular culture. As an artist I use the studio as a safe space to work through questions that challenge a positive view of self. My current work speaks to the identity politics of “black” hair. Black kinky curly hair has always seemed to me the most undesirable. On a day to day basis I encounter hair products, advertising and social comments aimed at changing, taming and making curly hair straight, more “beautiful,” more acceptable I’m told. I find at times that my own thoughts mirror these sentiments as I battle my inner dialogue and acceptance of my hair. The series “Split Ends” aims to fracture this dialogue and foster a positive self-image.

By going back to the line and using drawing as a medium, I am able to create strands of curly kinky hair, my hair. The repetitive, meditative marks allow time for self-reflection and create an objective lens, allowing me distance and space to reflect on the natural curls that are my hair. The simple line reveals itself and becomes beautiful, void of negative outside narrative.

The work begins with simple blind contour mark making; there is no erasing, and in so doing I am able to give reverence to the line and to the curl of the hair. Bit by bit the line transforms and becomes this lovely landscape. It allows me to see something extraordinary that was not evident before. These beginning black-and-white ink drawings also serve as inspiration for derivative work, they become part of my own visual language. The hair drawings begin to take on a life of their own and have become a jumping off point for creating other works. “Guess who’s coming to dinner or rather tea” provides a space to ask questions about domesticity, class and labor. The drawings are juxtaposed against the precious porcelain surface and become a permanent part of these utilitarian objects via a combination of screen printing and heat transfer.

Porcelain has long been revered as a highbrow material; Hitler admired and equated it to “perfection,” and likened it to racial purity. I was inspired to subvert this supremacist narrative that is at odds with my own sense of identity.

“Guess who’s coming to dinner or rather tea” is an attempt to question domestic spaces of exclusion and speaks to the history of blacks employed as domestics. I wanted to highlight the presence and absence of black bodies in these historical settings. These beautiful objects are littered with the curly line, which cannot be removed. There is an immediate reaction, physical and emotional questioning; the viewer is challenged to reflect on their own personal relationship to the objects.