My work attempts to explore the relationships between cultural narrative and identity. Cultural narrative is important to me because it helps to shape our self worth and often defines who we are and our place in the world. Having lived in three different countries my experience has made me hyper sensitive to cultural norms and perceptions of differences. I am interested in creating new stories that include a positive image of myself, so in my work I try to rewrite and give a positive narrative to negate negative images of blackness – images seen in the media and popular culture.
It’s about “the other” and how others perceive me as “the other”. It is about the stories and histories of folks that look like me that are used to define my identity. The work is an attempt to control that narrative and deconstruct it. Deconstructing bold popular notions of black identity.
The narrative created in my work aims to provoke dialogue and offer alternate views and stories. My current body of work speaks to the identity politics of “black” hair. Black kinky 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. These narratives are aimed at making curly hair more beautiful more acceptable. I find my own thoughts echo these sentiments as I battle my inner dialogue and acceptance of my hair.
During the residency, I will further develop my “Split Ends” hair identity series, by making some large scale drawings. Split Ends is a work I started at a time where I was feeling overwhelmed and stuck in my practice. My frustration was echoed in the way I groomed my hair and feelings I had about it and my practice. It felt like my feelings about my hair were the same as my feelings about my process. It was then that I decided to take a step back and reduce everything I was working on. It all seemed so overwhelming. I wanted to deconstruct the clutter and make things simple. I decided to go back to drawing, and made my focus the line. The simple line. Out of this process came several drawings of varying sizes. The line transformed itself into curly, kinky hair, a hairy landscape that grew into something I felt was quiet beautiful. I loved and hated the process of making these distinct repetitive mark makings that went on for hours. These drawings have for me the foundation for derivative works on the ceramic surface.
I am looking forward to the opportunity to work on new large scale drawings. The process itself is quiet tedious as it involves hours of repetitive mark making
Sharon Norwood is a interdisciplinary artist. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica, studied in Canada and the United States, receiving her BFA from the University of South Florida. She is currently an MFA candidate at Florida State University.