Studio Visit – Heidi Norton

If you stopped by the Swimming Pool Project Space booth at NEXT, or if you were lucky enough to catch the landscape | portrait | still life exhibition curated by Philip von Zweck at Hungry Man, or even if you visit Swimming Pool Project Space’s Irving Park location this weekend for their mother’s day show (Mom’s and Mimosas), you may have run or will run into the work of Chicago photographer and SAIC photography professor Heidi Norton. I’d first encountered her work back in the Site Unspecific show at Dominican University’s O’Connor Gallery (mini reviewed here), and last week I was able to get down to visit her studio to toast some mimosas and see what she’s been up to since.

Heidi Norton

Heidi Norton

Norton’s work runs a few topics and that afternoon there were two main and somewhat separate projects up for viewing. The first was part of what I’d seen at the O’Connor – a series of east-coast travel photos pointing at and nearly recreating traditional photography forms. In one, a conch shell is displayed in front of a beach sunset. The initial cliche beauty masks some irregularities – the horizontal tangents flatten and clamp space, the window’s screen is erased by blown-out light only, and there’s a subtle Filipino manufacturing tag on the – oh, fake – conch itself. These kinds of subtle maneuvers played all through this body of work, with photos facing kitsch at a wrestler’s crouch.

Heidi Norton, Conch Shell and Sunrise

Heidi Norton, Conch Shell and Sunrise

The main work, however, in progress and partially on display at NEXT, was a series of still life photography referred to as New Age Still Life and consisting of shelved photos having just as much to do with painting theory as anything else. The contraption Norton built to make these photos was impressive itself – a series of suspended Plexiglas plates onto which shelves and objects could be placed and shot overlapping in space. The compression of space by this method is so seamless that I would have been a long time in figuring her method outside of this visit.

For example, she’ll use this:

Heidi Norton

Heidi Norton

To create this:

Heidi Norton, Higher Self

Heidi Norton, Higher Self

Norton paints plants white to photograph them, and often rephotographs the same plants after they’ve either died from the suffocating white shell or are in the process of sloughing off the paint film like little postmodern parables. Other objects have been being plucked from the basement of her New Age-y parents and make a quiet first-person insertion into this otherwise more formal and critical looking work.

Heidi Norton

Heidi Norton

Heidi Norton

Heidi Norton

Its fun stuff. If you’re up for seeing some of the fresh new fruits of this studio labor, check out Heidi Norton this Sunday, May 9th from 1-5PM @ Swimming Pool Project Space, 2858 W. Montrose.

Comments 1

  1. australian artwork wrote:

    Some of her work looks very interesting! Thank you for sharing!

    Posted 17 May 2010 at 12:22 AM

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  1. From Weekend Preview – I’ve been meaning to hear of that on 07 Apr 2011 at 10:17 PM

    […] Heidi Norton at her first solo exhibition with ebersmoore gallery. See last year’s studio visit with her for an introduction, and check the method this Friday, April 8th from 6-9PM @ ebersmoore, […]

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    Chicago Art Review – Studio Visit – Heidi Norton

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