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Char Norman, Hats off to Egrets, weaving and coiling, 9"
Char Norman is an accomplished fiber artist specializing in papermaking and fiber sculpture. She received a Master of Fine Art from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelor of Art from Scripps College. She has lectured and exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. She has developed and conducted workshops for all ages, worked as a consultant to area schools and community arts organizations, held the positions of Associate Provost and Dean of Faculty at Columbus College of Art & Design and has recently returned to the studio as a full time professional artist.
The idea of Nature as an object of veneration and worship is as old as man. Tied into the worship of nature is the idea of the inter-connectedness of all things with none dominant over the other.
As our world and society are facing critical issues affecting the environment, social justice, ethics, and morality; it is more important than ever to understand this symbiotic relationship and embrace eco-psychology. I present nature in sacred spaces and attitudes to bring understanding and importance to the issues at hand and in recognition of the role nature can play as teacher, therapist, and healer.
The woven pod shape derives from seed pods. This iconic shape is a metaphor for how we might relate to our natural environment; nurturing, abusing, mourning, or revering. The forms can be both wombs and shrouds; celebrating and nurturing the birth or mourning and honoring the death of nature. This dichotomy of ideas is further expressed by the mending of natural objects through the violent act of stitching and fastening parts together.
References to the destruction and deterioration of the environment also serves as a metaphor for the rot in our society, government, and the world. Small natural objects such as nuts and seed are nestled into the work representing rebirth and hope for a better future.
My materials and techniques are a direct result of my training in fiber arts, specifically weaving, coiling, and papermaking and have an affinity to the natural objects I incorporate into the work.
Specific Statement for "Egret Series":
While hiking in South Carolina, I chanced upon the remains of a great white egret. The bird had apparently met its demise at the hands, or I should say paws, of a predator. There was not much left except a smattering of feathers strewn about the trail. My brother and hiking companion remarked that I should gather a few feathers for a hat. This off-hand remark was the inspiration for the series. In the late 1800s egret feathers were highly prized as adornment for fashionable ladies' hats. So popular were the feathers that egrets were slaughtered in mass and very nearly wiped out. If not for two environmentally conscious society women, we may not know the beauty of these birds today. Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and Minna Hall mounted a campaign to convince women of high society to boycott the feathers. Their efforts were successful not only in saving the egret but culminated in the formation of the National Audubon Society.
Specific Statement for "The Scorched Earth Series":
The Scorched Earth series is a comment on environmental concerns and also a metaphor for our current political situation. Destructive fires sweeping across the country, particularly on the west coast, are fueled by a variety of concerns including climate change, excessive building in rural areas, lack of water, and man's reluctance to coexist with nature in a healthy productive manner. Serotiny is a phenomenon in which seeds are released and germinate in response to an environmental trigger or crisis; most often in response to fire. After fires are extinguished a new generation of plants will likely sprout.
In the Scorched Earth sculptures, serotiny is a metaphor for the state of the world. As the political situation and heinous acts are taking place not only in the U.S. but across the world, seeds of discontent and resistance are sown. These seeds, both the physical seeds found in the sculptures and the metaphorical seeds, represent hope and rejuvenation.
Char Norman, Columbus, OH