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Note to Self self HDR artwork by John Harlan Norris

Wilson Fine Art Gallery Exhibits Works by John Harlan Norris

Submitted on November 8, 2017

Note to Self, works by John Harlan Norris, is now an exhibit on the Georgetown College campus in the Wilson Fine Art Gallery. Open to the public, the exhibit continues through Nov. 8. An opening reception with the artist is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 12, from 6-8 p.m. in the Gallery.

Of Note to Self, Norris states, “During a time in which we are increasingly inundated with mediated images, digital representations, and virtual relationships, a sense of disembodiment can emerge. Our physical forms, once the primary source from which our individual identities arose, have begun to feel tangential. We can now construct ourselves in realms that seem no longer determined by our physicality, and in some senses, we can transcend our natural characteristics and capabilities. This new notion of self-determination can feel at once exhilarating and unnerving.

“My current body of work, titled Disintegrants, seeks a form of portraiture that describes the departure of its subjects from their physical entities. Rather than focusing on the traditional elements of likeness, anatomy and natural environments, these portraits are concerned with more abstract characteristics such as cognition, motivation, and transition. The predominant forms in these works are sourced from abandoned painting stretchers, suggesting an armature that can be both deconstructed and liberated from its previous incarnation. These brightly colored and patterned elements collide and break apart to suggest subjects that correspond to a physical body but are not bound by its limitations. While there is a celebratory component to these forms, their fractured and precarious nature also suggests what self-psychologist Heinz Kohut called “disintegration anxiety,” describing the fear of a cohesive self-breaking apart irreversibly. Ultimately, I see these works as neither portraits of our physical forms nor the illusory selves we construct, but rather of the mercurial bodies that exist in between.”

Norris, an Associate Professor of Art (painting and drawing) at Arkansas State University, is originally from Nicholasville, Ky. A painter, professor, and musician who now divides his time between Lexington and Jonesboro, AR, his work explores alternative approaches to portraiture and investigates notions such as occupational identity and virtual constructions of the self.

He has exhibited at venues including Greg Thompson Fine Art (Little Rock, AR), Trestle Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Plus Gallery (Denver, CO), 21C Museum Hotel (Bentonville, AR), Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans, LA), Institute 193 (Lexington, KY), and numerous others. He is a recipient of an Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship and has participated in residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. He also records and performs in the musical projects Harlan, Questionnaire, and Letters of Acceptance.

The Wilson Art Gallery is located in the Wilson Fine Arts building at the corner of East College and Mulberry Streets in Georgetown. Its hours are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m.

An appointment for other times may be arranged by calling Samantha Simpson, Gallery Director and Curator of Collections, at 502-863-8399.

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