14 May - 18 June, 2022
Open House: 14 May 12 - 5 PM
Catalyst Contemporary presents, Perception, a solo exhibition featuring recent works by collage artist Kate Norris. Featured in the Main Gallery, Norris’ work utilizes ripped fragments of vintage wallpapers and often contains social and political implications on gender, lifestyles, and race, transforming them into a universal common denominator, our physiology and shared humanity.
The source material for Norris’s pieces consist of Toile, Chinoiserie and other vintage wallpapers. Toile wallpaper patterns historically feature pastoral scenes from abroad, most often illustrating farm life and hunting scenes in the country, printed in one color in repeat on a light background. Chinoiserie is similar, yet the imagery is more like a mural and depicts European ideas of what the exotic Far East might look like in the time period of their creation (late 1800s). Other such vintage wallpapers follow these patterns, and the original medium reflects our societal foundation not as a blank page but with prejudice and biases already woven into patterns that we remix and build with. The wallpaper is a heavy and historical cloth that we cannot wipe clear, yet it is a foundation to every new structure we build.
This work explores Norris’ themes through the lens of local experiences and reflects our collective society at large. From a distance, a viewer looking at the wallpaper collages will see a primary image at a macro level. But upon closer inspection, the process reveals the layers of torn and combined papers, where small, micro narratives and abstract juxtapositions of flowers, animals, foliage, and colors are formed. By utilizing wallpaper with such heavy and historical connotations Norris presents to us both our shared histories and the question of our shared futures created by collaging our own perceptions with the desire to understand others.
One such work is Everyman. From a distance, what we witness is a human figure stoically looking off into the distance with their skin removed. What we are presented with is an anatomical drawing that references scientific illustration and its own inherited connotation and struggle with separating facts from social beliefs. The works come together to present both racial identities and the discrimination we still face while also illustrating the beauty of the universality of our shared humanity and the bodies we inhabit.