Sharon Norwood - Conceptual Artist

Artist Sharon Norwood: Fine Art and Sculptures

My practice is interdisciplinary, spanning ceramics, drawing, installations and digital media. I am most inspired to create works that foster a narrative about inclusion. Works that speak to our understanding of otherness, gender, race and class. My process begins with simple line drawings that transform to become curly afro hair which in turn represents the black body.

W. E. B. Du Bois, an American sociologist, historian and civil rights activist coined the phrase double consciousness. In his book "The Soul of Black Folks" Du Bois describes double consciousness as "a sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity". Du Bois speaks of having to adopt a double consciousness as a way of navigating being black in a world where the rules are not really made for you. Du Bois' philosophy informs much of my conceptual ideas in the works I create.

Hair is something everyone has in common, our engagement with hair mirrors and reinforces our cultural beliefs and ideals about beauty. All of our performative attention to hair, such as styling, coloring, to cut or not to cut, to cover or not to cover our hair, occurs within our specific cultural value system. To me all of these choices and more provide a fertile space for conversations about "presumed" difference. Juxtaposing afro hair in spaces where they "don't belong" allows for an opportunity to confront our implicit bias in maintaining racist systems. Our reaction to seeing afro hair in my iterations are meant to provoke thought and generate questions. It should start a conversation that begins with why? The work invites the viewer to reflect on their own ideas about race, class and difference and to question and challenge the visual culture that render some groups invisible.