“Occupants Test Prints,” John Harlan Norris’ third BRG exhibition, continues his examination of professional portraiture, but sees him introduce colorful mixed-media prints to his series of oil-on-canvas paintings for the first time. Norris finds inspiration in the ways we allow the roles we play in our daily lives to define us. Whether pursuing leisure, prosperity or social status, we assume identities that both define us and fail to define us. With his work, Norris delves into the possibilities and limitations of our occupations at a time when we frequently change jobs, balance multiple roles and cannot easily delineate between public and private life. “The works concentrate on tools, uniforms, ephemera and other signifiers that both define the [subject’s] roles and obscure their identifying qualities,” says Norris.
A BRG artist member since 2009, Norris is currently an assistant professor of art at Arkansas State University. He received his Masters of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University, having earned his Bachelors of Art degree at Centre College (in his home state of Kentucky). Since graduating, Norris has taught drawing and design at Louisiana State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Southern University (Baton Rouge). His work has been shown in Chicago and Houston as well as throughout Louisiana and Kentucky. It is fitting that Norris investigate professional roles as he balances multiple himself, as a visual artist, instructor and musician. His band, Harlan, has released three albums, The Still Beat, Spiderette and 2011’s Night Loop.