John Harlan Norris

Gaze Shifter, oil on canvas, 2016, 24 x 36 in. 

John Harlan Norris: Disintegrants
January 5 - February 11, 2017

John Harlan Norris' work explores alternative approaches to portraiture and investigates notions such as occupational identity and virtual constructions of the self. In his new series of paintings, Disintegrants, Norris continues his research on portraiture, here motivated by a sense of disembodiment that emerges out of mediated images, digital information and virtual relationships. “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 abilities and characteristics."

This body of work seeks a form of portraiture that describes the departure of its subjects from their physical entities. 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. “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.”

Heatseeker, oil and airbrushed acrylic on canvas, 2016, 40 x 60 in.

Yes Wave, oil and airbrushed acrylic on canvas, 2016, 36 x 48 in.

Installation view

Installation View
Installation View

About the Artist:

John Harlan Norris is a painter and musician originally from Nicholasville, Kentucky. He lives in Lexington, KY and Jonesboro, AR where he is an associate professor of art at Arkansas State University. Norris has exhibited at venues including Trestle Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), Plus Gallery (Denver, CO), Greg Thompson Fine Art (Little Rock, AR), 21C Museum Hotel (Bentonville, AR), Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans, LA), Contemporary Arts Center Las Vegas (Las Vegas, NV), The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit, NJ), David Lusk Gallery (Memphis, TN), Arkansas Arts Center (Little Rock, AR), Florida State Museum of Fine Arts (Tallahassee, FL), Memphis College of Art (Memphis, TN) and 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.