Jim Kempner Fine Art is pleased to present Craig Norton’s second solo show at the gallery: Tim Came Home from the War and Isn’t Timmy Anymore, a confrontational narrative about the horrors of war and the struggles endured by soldiers upon return from battle. This narrative was created using Norton’s signature technique: a combination of expressive, photo-realistically drawn faces and hands with swaths and swirls of wallpaper collage. Three-dimensional wooden structures - walls, doors, caskets – are incorporated into the tableaux, adding a new sense of psychological and physical depth. The show will be on display from May 12th- June 17th, 2012 and the artist will be present at the opening on May 12th, 6 -8 pm.
In Roberta Smith's New York TImes review of Norton's first installation, Civil Rights, at Jim Kempner in 2008, she writes: 'Craig Norton ...is a self-taught artist with a mission and an almost freakishly developed skill set. Regardless of your ultimate reaction to his efforts - mine is mixed - they must be seen to be believed." Her last paragraph reads: " But the tension between reportorial and the subjective, between the ordinary and the loopishly cartoonish, and above all between watching events unfold and being there, feeling them in all the madness and motion of life, is extraordinary. It's hard to know exactly where Mr. Norton will end up, but he is definitely on the way to somewhere."
Craig Norton’s installations have brought social awareness to issues such as civil rights and lynching in America (the subject of his first show at Kempner), the Holocaust and other genocides, and gun violence in America. This most recent tableaux evolved from conversations Norton had with a family friend, a veteran who returned after three tours of duty with a purple heart and severe brain injuries. As a result of these injuries, the veteran felt lost, isolated, and unable to connect with those around him, symptoms commonly associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Using powerfully gestural and evocative collage techniques, Norton draws attention to PTSD as a pressing national crisis.
A highlight from the show, Take A Spin, the Game of Going Off to War, uses dark humor to illustrate the mental and physical unpredictability every soldier faces. Similar to a game, viewers are invited to “spin the wheel” to see the various options: lose an arm, leg or genitals; come home unhurt, unchanged, the same as when you left; accidentally kill a non-combatant; die; suffer PTSD; spin again.
In My Daddy was a Decorated War Hero, Norton addresses the problems of suicide among war veterans: a little girl stands screaming outside a room, where she has just found her father’s dead body. The dramatic foreshortening of the man’s body and the twisted expression on the little girl’s face heighten the dynamism and raw emotion of this image.
Craig Norton’s work is in the collections of the deYoung Fine Art Museum in San Francisco, CA; Holocaust Museum in St. Louis, MO; Richard Harris in Illinois; among others. Norton was the recipient of the Fountainhead Residency in 2010 and a participant in the 2009-10 Vancouver Biennale. He lives with his family in Perry, Missouri.
Please address any questions to Ms. Dru Arstark, gallery director.