Sarah Norman, b. 1992, is from Biloxi, MS. She is a painter, drawer and mixed media artist. In 2015, she received her BFA at the University of Southern Mississippi. She then went on to pursue an MFA at American University in Washington, DC, completing her degree in 2017. Sarah has had the opportunity to attend multiple artist in residency programs. In 2016, she traveled to Berlin, Germany for the GlogauAIR program; in 2017, she spent the summer at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York; and in 2019, she attended the Vermont Studio Center. Sarah currently lives and works locally on the Gulf Coast.
The Waves is set in the landscape of my grandparent’s home, in and around their house and pool, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I recreated family photographs of my sister and I’s childhood centered around this place that now only exists in my memory. This body of work is a visual diary; one that is autobiographical but at the same time unreliable. I use vibratory color relationships, spatial distortions, and hazy, atmospheric perspectives to symbolize the nature of memory: how details warp and fade over time. Together, these paintings do not follow a linear timeline; there is no beginning, middle or end. Imagery from one painting bubbles up in another, such as the motif of a red chair so clear in one, emerges from the background of the one beside it, or the same jumping figure echoes in its neighbor.
I remember the destruction after the storm. There wasn’t a patch of ground clear of debris for blocks. What I remember most is finding family photographs belonging to strangers scattered all around. I imagine that someone else miles away found our water-logged pictures instead of their own. The ink splotchy and bleeding like watercolor, our pictures were unfamiliar and meaningless but undeniably intimate.