The Root of the Matter

February 3 – May 28, 2022, Watson Galleries
A portion of this exhibition is now installed in Leyburn Library

The Root of the Matter

The Root of the Matter features the contemporary art of Sharon Norwood, a conceptual artist of Caribbean descent, who shares that her collective work is meant to provoke an honest conversation about race and difference. “We are different yet inexplicably connected in our intertwined histories,” she states. “[My] work seeks to interrogate those spaces that both fracture and unite our understanding of self and ‘otherness’.”

Norwood explores complex issues of identity and cultural relationships using the deceptively simple element of line. For her, line — specifically the curly line — exists on multiple levels. It stands on its own as an artistic element, decorative and ornate, but simultaneously and on a deeper metaphorical level, the curly line represents the female Black body, especially hair. This theme is explored in the current exhibition through her series: Hair Matters; The Root of the Matter; and Skin Deep. Through various media —including ceramics, drawings, paintings, installations, and video— Norwood speaks in nuanced ways to issues of race, gender, beauty, fashion, class, and labor. By applying lines to found objects such as ceramic tea services and 19th-century prints, the artist also invites viewers to reframe familiar historical narratives of postcolonialism and power by disrupting the pervading narrative and providing an alternate artistic context for contemplation.

Sharon Norwood was born in Jamaica and raised in Canada. She received a BFA in Painting from the University of South Florida and an MFA in Studio Art from Florida State University. She has exhibited throughout the United States, Canada, Jamaica, Korea, and Germany and has participated in national and international residencies, including the McColl Center for Arts & Innovation; Vermont Studio Center (VSC); PILOTENKUECHE, an international art program in Leipzig, Germany; Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine; ROKTOWA in Kingston, Jamaica; and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). In 2019 she became a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant nominee. Norwood currently maintains her studio practice in Savannah, Georgia.

This exhibition was curated by Patricia Hobbs, Senior Curator of Art, with assistance from student curator Ayomiposi (Posi) Oluwakuyide ’24. To explore the virtual gallery: click and drag to rotate room view; click directly on paintings and text panels to enlarge; and click the white square icons next to each painting to view label information.

The Root of the Matter

Exhibit and Artist Photos

Hair Matters, 2018 Custom over-glaze drawings on vintage china
The Root of the Matter V, 2016 Digital Collage
Artist Sharon Norwood, photo courtesy of The McColl Center