Get to know Michele Norman
Geneva artist focuses on women's roles in latest series
GENEVA – Michele Norman's paintings have many symbolic references, and she uses that same metaphoric style in her latest series, exploring how women seek balance in their busy lives.
Norman, 44, of Geneva said she uses mainly oil and watercolors to create her contemporary realism paintings. She said she studied graphic design and has been focused on painting for the last 15 years.
She previously painted a series of roses, each named for the feeling she had when she painted them. While the subject is the same, the colors and tone of each differs. She named one "Lethargy" from when her family moved from Mexico to Chicago. Others are called "Lonely," "Faithfulness" and "Mourning." Some paintings are named in Spanish, Norman's native language, as she was born in El Salvador.
Norman said she likes to "go more into the narrative when I'm painting and what I'm feeling at the moment."
Her three children also have been the subjects of her paintings. Hangingin her studio is a work which features her daughter, Isabel Amat, when she was 12 years old. In the painting, called "The Light Within," Isabel looks out out window amidst her transition between girlhood and womanhood.. Norman said she tried to capture the sense that her daughter is waiting to bloom, and she expects it to come from the outside, when really, it comes from the inside.
"I love what I do and I think it's so important for everyone to understand that art will help them open their senses, be happier and see the little things in life," Norman said.
Her latest series features a woman wearing a head wrap which, in Norman's painting, resembles a piece of muslin. In reality, it's a piece of wax paper that covers her model.
In the painting, the paper covers almost all of the woman's hair and almost all of her face. On the paper, Norman wrote long lists of chores, such as stopping by the grocery store, turning in tax forms, picking up the kids from soccer practice and taking her mom to chemotherapy sessions.
Small reminders are scattered throughout the piece of cloth, reminding the woman in the painting to lose weight, vote and deposit a check. She doesn't leave out the constant reminder to plan for retirement and build up college funds for her children. Like the titles of her rose paintings, some of the words on the list are in English and some are in Spanish.
"My work is a poetic interpretation of life," Norman said. "It's crazy all the things that are on your mind."
Norman said the paper represents the roles women play. She said her paintings aren't a complaint about a woman's role, but focused rathervon how women embrace their lives and live the best way they can. She said she uses the paper as a symbol because it's so fragile.
"There's still a little smile," she said of the woman in her paintings. "She's embracing what she chose. She's still walking two steps behind, but at the same time, she's happy."
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