John Harlan Norris, an art professor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, will present his artwork exhibit at University of the Ozarks throughout most of November as part of the University's Artist of the Month Series.
Titled, "John Harlan Norris: Visage," the exhibit will be on display in the Stephens Gallery on the Ozarks campus from Nov. 3-21. There will be a reception to meet the artist in the gallery from 6-7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Norris said his current artwork "explores the possibilities and limitations of our daily occupations at a time in which we frequently change jobs, balance multiple roles, and cannot easily delineate between private and public life. We all experience moments in which the roles we play in our daily lives come to define us in powerful ways. In the pursuit of prosperity, leisure, social status, and personal meaning, we often assume identities that both define and fail to define us."
Arkansas State University Art Professor John Harlan Norris will present his artwork at Ozarks as the Artist of the Month for November.
Norris added that, traditionally, the painted portrait has sought to convey both the individual characteristics of the sitter and tell us something about their role in society.
"In particular, the genre of occupational portraiture has described its subjects through the lens of their working lives," he said. "The portraits in this body of work seek to reinterpret this genre by deemphasizing the sitters’ individual characteristics in order to create images of figures entirely consumed by their given occupations. The works concentrate on tools, uniforms, ephemera, and other signifiers that both define the sitters’ roles and obscure their identifying qualities. Inevitably, despite the attempt to faithfully translate each subject’s position, this unwieldy process of piling on and covering up results in a certain amount of confusion and incongruity, perhaps reflecting the rapidly changing nature of our work and its influence over how we see ourselves. Ultimately, I view this body of paintings as a kind of group portrait; one that is both intensely descriptive and curiously elusive."
Originally from Kentucky, Norris majored in studio art and English at Centre College in Kentucky and received his master of fine arts degree in painting and drawing at Louisiana State University. He has exhibited widely in venues, including the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans; David Lusk Gallery in Memphis; the Contemporary Arts Center in Las Vegas; the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey; the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock; the Florida State Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee; and The Hilliard Art Museum in Lafayette. In 2012, he was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council.
The Stephens Gallery, located in the Walton Fine Arts Center, is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.