Sarah Norsworthy:
The Hum of Life 

March 5 - April 9, 2022

Awake to Encounter: Sarah Norsworthy’s New Exhibition
by Sierra Nelson

Stepping into a forest, feeling the temperature shift and taking in a deep breath; turning a corner on your path as the light lifts, illuminating a small tree under the canopy; the sound of a creek as you walk, a nearby creature listening too, as shadows deepen into purples and blues; a friend after nightfall stirring the sea to try to awaken bioluminescence beneath the stars — each painting in Sarah Norsworthy’s new solo exhibition “The Hum of Life” awakens our senses and brings us into a meditative moment in connection to the natural world. Using oils mixed with beeswax to create an interplay of smooth and sculpturally roughed surfaces within the colors, and painted on wooden panels the artist builds herself, the physicality of Norsworthy’s paintings is best experienced in person, to more fully immerse in the largest works, like 9-foot wide “Winter Sanctuary,” or experience the felt proximity of a chance encounter, as we would in the wild, coming upon, for example, a Cooper’s hawk looking down on water and blooms, or sharing a knowing look with a heron in winter, thrillingly close.

Although many of Norsworthy’s paintings have a dream-like quality, each one is rooted in a specific western Washington location (with place names often found in the painting titles), such as Deception Pass and Lake Quinault, as well as urban green spaces such as Thornton Creek, Carkeek Park, and Magnuson Park. Norsworthy often paints on-site en plein air, or by making on-site drawings to use back in the studio for inspiration, along with memory. Pulling us towards water and trees, often nestling our perspective down among the plants or peering through branches or bracken, these paintings seem to slow down time, inviting us to listen more closely to the hushed yet breathing, lavish yet still, moment.

People sometimes appear in these paintings, too: usually just one or two at a time, dynamic in gesture within a pervasive quiet, or else tucked in subtly as part of the living landscape. Though a continuation of creative process from previous work, these new paintings made during the pandemic years may underscore for viewers now just how lonely many of us have been. Yet Norsworthy’s paintings offer a tangible reminder that we have always been (even if small) a part of the collective, alive hum.

Sarah Norsworthy
Bio/cv | | #sknmeep80

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