Preview: Char Norman at Upper Arlington Concourse Gallery

By Columbus Alive
From the Preview: Char Norman at Upper Arlington Concourse Gallery edition

A hike through the woods may never be the same after seeing the environmental statuary of fiber artist Char Norman.

"When I isolate an object, I want people to really look at it closely and see the interesting features and the beauty of it," Norman explained. "I want to present it in a way that it becomes an icon and a precious object, when, to anyone else, it might be something they throw away or step on in the woods."

Sticks become sculpture. Dead wood turns into spiritual works of art.

In her "Mending Nature" series, Norman weaves thread into long strands and attaches them, as if they were a Band-Aid or a cast, to broken tree branches and bark. The strands help nature reconnect to itself.

In "Shroud Series," colorful woven pods attached to the tops of standing twigs look like both a burial cloak and a life-giving womb. The contrast ignites a back and forth of questions Norman wishes viewers to consider about man's relationship with nature.

"Are we living in harmony?" Norman said. "Are we using nature for our own use? Am I harming it? Am I helping it?"

The laborious tasks of weaving and making paper - which she sometimes places inside decayed branches to make them look healthy and full again - also play a conceptual role in her work.

"It's a process that builds on itself," Norman said, "small elements building up to become a whole."

Sounds a lot like nature.