Artist of the Week: Heidi Norton

Heidi Norton is an artist living and working in Chicago, IL.  She currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Chicago, New York, Spain and London.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say?  I would say that I paint plants and photograph them. Then I watch them grow out of the paint into their second life or sometimes death and photograph them again.

What kinds of things are influencing your work right now?  Chromophobia by David Batchelor, spider plants, house paint in grey and peach, trash, perception, the artificial vs the natural,  beauty as cliché, my parents’ youth, vintage books on gardening, Vilem Flusser, Spacemen 3.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?  I recently did a solo display of images in conjunction with Monique Meloche Gallery at the James Hotel. I also just did a group show in an alternative space (William H. Cooper warehouse) with the Andrew Rafacz boys (Matt Stolle, Zach Buchner, John Opera, Andrew Falkowski), Welcome to the Neighborhood, a show renegotiating modernism and materiality in a warehouse full of trash and junk.  As far as work is concerned, more Whitescapes and Blackscapes, more still life with 3-d sculptural objects constructed from new age-y trash.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like?  Plants, paint, fruit, spray paint, mirrors, books, film, photos, whiskey, sand, shells, rocks, wax, horns. I construct plexi and wood shelving units, arrange objects (sometimes painted and sometimes not), and then photograph them.

What is one of the bigger challenges you’re struggle with these days, and how do you see it developing?  As an artist who primarily uses photography, I’m tired of justifying photography as a medium. I’m not sure why this is still a relevant debate. A symposium like SMOMA’s, “Is Photography Dead” is a waste of time and further perpetuates these notions. If anything, photography is more relevant than ever.

What artists are you interested in right now?  John Opera , Robert Irwin, Sheree Hovsepian , Barbara Kasten  , Baroque still life painters, Paul Otterbridge, Callahan, Anthony Pearson, Robert Irwin, Kate Steciw  , Rashid Johnson, Josef Albers, various modernist photographers, Rachel Harrison, William Pope L.

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you?  Two: William Eggelston at ARTIC  (here’s a review I did of the show) and Marina Abramovi? at MOMA.

If you had one wish what would it be?  To be a self-sustaining artist.

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What do you do when you’re not working on art?  I teach photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I jump off cliffs into bodies of water, I watch bad reality TV, I walk in the woods, I explore.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?  Can I pick outer space?  I guess that’s not the world. So a field of lavender in the forest of Berlin while Leonard Cohen plays in the background.