USA b. 1975
Any introduction to my art or style usually begins with the idea of the narrative.
Inspired by the illustrations of natural history and infused with surrealism’s familiar juxtapositions, each work represents a narrative that seeks to tell a compelling or whimsical tale of human and universal truth. These visual narratives are very much rooted in the genre of fable in that I work within the natural world in order to comment on the human one. However, rather than presenting some obvious moral lesson (as fables often do), I attempt to sidestep the obvious pedagogic implications in order to explore the more ambiguous ideas inherent in each narrative’s tension. In doing this, the work can explore the reaches of the human imagination and experience on mythical and in some cases, spiritual, terms.
Natural history in general, and the visual study of birds, specifically, is the departure point for my work. Birds have long been the avatars of human behavior in our mythical, spiritual and even political imaginations across nearly all of recorded time and in all cultures; an observation that does not go unnoticed in the work. Birds bear symbolic and even talismanic significance in our collective language- they are the harbingers of peace and destruction, of the morning and of the night, of life and of death. In these stories, the majesty and power of the eagle becomes the hubris that suffers divine wrath; the magpie’s fevered hunt for shiny objects becomes a meditation on the nature of being; and a heron’s hunger becomes a commentary on social economics.
My early work borrowed heavily from Aesop’s fables as this was the direction that I first sought and it was the direction I was coming from after illustrating two children’s books. However, as the works progressed, I found that the motives present in the natural world gave way to new narratives that significantly departed the more established fables and began to develop compelling and mature narratives all their own. Indeed, the illustrated yet un-written fable presents many interesting possibilities.
I work predominantly in watercolor and gouache in keeping with the traditions of natural history illustration of the past. In working in large formats, I’m able to include details that help give additional textures and highlight symbolic relationships that I find essential in the narrative process. Noah Norrid 2020