Artist Sharon Norwood (MFA Studio Art 2018) is known for pairing curly lines with historical objects, creating works which speak to issues of race, gender, beauty, class and labor.
Eight of Norwood’s pieces from her recent solo exhibition “The Root of The Matter” have been acquired into the permanent collection of the Museums at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. She is the first living black artist to be exhibited in the museum and the second female black artist to be featured in the museum’s collection, which includes 12,000 contemporary and historic objects.
“I’m very excited that Washington and Lee was inspired to acquire this work,” said Norwood. “This is a very fitting location for the pieces and for me, it’s a big deal for me that these pieces are living in a space where students can engage with them.”
Her piece “Stand Tall Soldier” was also recently acquired into the permanent collection at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Norwood was also recently signed by Mayten’s, a gallery located in Ontario, Canada which aims to foster connection within art and bring impactful experiences with contemporary art to the public.
“All of us in the Department of Art are very excited to see Sharon’s work recognized in this way,” said Lilian Garcia-Roig, Chair of the Department of Art. “We take pride in offering opportunities for the artists in our MFA program to conduct research, explore a variety of mediums and develop their practice.”
Norwood credits FSU’s MFA program and faculty with helping her to find direction for her work and hone her skills as an artist.
“The MFA program made a real difference in my practice,” she said. “The way the program is set up really helps you develop your ideas and push them to the next level. Being in an environment with so many other artists can be very helpful for someone who wants to improve.”
Norwood’s artwork uses the simplest of forms, the line, to explore incredibly complex topics and, she hopes, to spark deep and meaningful conversations.
“I’d say that my work is centered around the line,” Norwood explained. “For me, the line becomes a metaphor—a stand-in for the black figure. I associate my black curly hair with this one simple representation. I would often draw my hair as these curly lines.”
At first, Norwood was unsure whether or not others would recognize her simple figures as black hair, but they did. The curly lines have resonated with a wide variety of audiences, and this theme continues to feature prominently throughout her work.
“I also see the line as a democratic space,” she said. “No one owns the line, and anyone can draw it. All you need is a pencil and paper.”
Learn more about Norwood and her work at SharonNorwood.com.
Learn more about FSU’s MFA program at art.fsu.edu.