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 this worship of nature is the idea that all things are interconnected, and no one thing is dominant over another. As our world continues to face critical issues affecting the environment, social equality, ethics, and morality, the need to understand this symbiotic relationship and embrace eco-psychology becomes more apparent than ever. I present nature in a sacred space in order to bring about a deeper understanding of the importance of the issues at hand and to help others recognize the role nature can play as a teacher, therapist, and healer.
The woven pod shapes in many of my pieces are modelled after seed pods. This iconic shape is a metaphor for how we relate to our natural environment; nurturing, abusing, mourning, or revering it. The forms can be both wombs and shrouds; celebrating and nurturing the birth of nature or mourning and honoring the death of it. 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 play a role in representing the rot in our society, government and the rest of the world. Small natural objects such as nuts and seed are nestled into the work - representing rebirth and the hope for a better future.
Egret Series - While hiking in South Carolina, I happened upon the remains of a great white egret. The bird had apparently met its demise at the hands, or should I 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 prized in the fashion industry as decoration for ladies’ hats. So popular were the feathers that egrets were slaughtered en masse and very nearly wiped out. If not for two environmentally conscious women, Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and Minna B. Hall, we may not know the beauty of these birds today. Together, they mounted a campaign to convince women of high society to boycott the feathers. Their efforts were successful in not only saving the egret but influencing the formation of the National Audubon Society.