For the past several years, I have been making sculptures depicting human/animal hybrids. I view each piece as part of a narrative drawn from the physical and metaphorical connections between animals and humans. I am currently creating two bodies of work. The common strand between them is a sense of duality, explicitly illustrated as hybridization, (between dolphins and humans, and monkeys and flowers), and more subtly reinforced by the contrast between their formal refinement and the wildness of their subject.
My first body of work is a family of peculiar beauties, created from a combination of the supple forms of dolphins and whales with seductively posed human figures. I intend them as somewhat humorous representations of the contradictory forces at play in the experience of sexual attraction. Their ambiguous nature has allowed them to evolve over time from many sources, including folklore, popular culture, and art history. The influences for a half-dolphin female character I call La Encantada include tales of mermaids from the Amazon, classic pin-up girls, and the famous nudes of Ingres and Manet. Like many shy people, I have an exhibitionist streak, and I see these the same way: as subtle and quiet on the surface, with sexy and dangerous undercurrents.
The monkeys are a new body of work, which I have only begun to explore. They are inspired by the delightfully tacky 1970’s Chinoiserie wallpaper in my bedroom. A cross between snub-nosed monkeys (who, coincidentally, live in China) and the types of flowers often depicted in Chinese art, they combine figuration with decoration.
Creating hybrids gives me the opportunity to be rigorous in my observations and playful in my interpretations. Within this framework of duality, I am continually inspired by my desire to mimic and invent forms and textures using the raw materials of clay and glaze.
-- Keira Norton
Originally from Buffalo, NY, Keira Norton lives and works in Kansas City, MO. She received her MFA from Indiana University in 2010, and her BFA from The Ohio State University in 2004. She arrived in Kansas City in 2011, to complete a two-year residency at Red Star Studios. She has since acquired a range of professional experiences, teaching college, workshops, and non-academic adult and children’s classes. She has also completed several shorter-term residencies and workshops around the country, including at Watershed Center for the Arts, Penland School of Crafts, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. She has shown nationally, in juried exhibitions and by invitation.