This Friday’s Art Walk will feature Emma Norman’s work in our first floor studio gallery. Emma is one of CAL’s studio artists. We recently had a chance to ask her a few questions to better know her and her work. You’re invited to meet the artist at the reception: Friday, October 1, 2021, 5-7 PM.
What is your background?
I was born in Hawaii in 1988 and grew up in Vermont and Washington, D.C. I went to Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, and completed a Master’s in Visual Arts from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier in 2017. In addition to photography, I have also spent many years working in the coffee industry. I recently moved back to Vermont after a decade of living in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When and where did you start pursuing your art?
My dad is a novelist and my mom is a poet, and they encouraged me to explore the arts from a young age. I took my first photography class at 11 years old in a repurposed Maryland amusement park called Glen Echo. I had a great photography teacher in high school named Karen Keating, who also ran the Glen Echo darkroom. She encouraged me to attend the Maine Photographic Workshops (now the Maine Media Workshops) where I learned darkroom techniques and alternative processes from the talented cyanotypist Brenton Hamilton. When I was 15, I began a mentorship with East Montpelier photographer and master printer Andrew Kline.
Who and what has influenced you the most ?
In addition to my teachers, my early influences were photographers Sally Mann, Francesca Woodman, and Claude Cahun. I cast a wide net of inspiration, from writers to musicians to other photographers and visual artists.
How would you best describe your style?
I try to strike a balance between the formal and intimate. I like to explore narrative, memory, historicity, queer representation, and everyday life. Someone once told me I have a “promiscuous sensibility” which I took to mean that my influences are very eclectic. I have also been described as a magpie- I guess I am a collector and a maximalist! I tend to think of my work as pretty straightforward, though, and not overly reliant on concept.
Do you have any dreams or inspirations you are currently pursuing or would like to create?
I am getting ready to launch a small commercial portraiture business here in Montpelier and looking forward to becoming more immersed in our local arts scene. Please contact me if you’d like to have a portrait made!
I am currently working on a long term photography and oral history project called See My Heart, about a friend of mine from San Francisco. I met Morgan when I was working as a barista at Pinhole Coffee in Bernal Heights, San Francisco. I soon realized that my new friend was exceptional in myriad ways, and I became interested in helping to share her incredible life stories with the public through the form of an artist book.
Morgan has performed comedic autobiographical storytelling since the 80s, and has a successful woodcraft business. While she has entertained countless audiences with vulnerable (and hilariously rendered) stories of her gender transition from male to female, See My Heart explores the stories which haven’t made it onto the stage. This book offers a glimpse beyond Morgan’s gender and into the untold personal experiences of a talented woodworker, an important community member, and a cherished friend.
See My Heart is also the story of a friendship between two queer people of different generations (I’m 33 and Morgan is almost 70!) who’ve come together to ensure that her stories of adventure, survival, addiction, recovery, transition, love, loss, and triumph are not lost to history. Rather, we want to uplift and amplify these unique memories and present them in the timeless, fine-art medium of an artist book. I have a GoFundMe set up if you would be interested in helping me to complete this exciting project.
Our first floor Studio Gallery is sponsored by The Drawing Board, Montpelier’s arts supply and framing shop.