Alison Norlen

About the Artist

Saskatoon-based artist Alison Norlen was born in 1962, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She remained in Winnipeg while obtaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours, First Class) from the School of Art at the University of Manitoba in 1987. She then continued her study of art by moving to the United States where she attended the prestigious Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, receiving her Master of Fine Arts from that institution in 1989.  Today she continues her academic involvement in part by teaching.  Norlen is currently a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Norlen's  baroqueThe art style or art movement of the Counter-Reformation in the seventeenth century. Although some features appear in Dutch art, the Baroque style was limited mainly to Catholic countries. It is a style in which painters, sculptors, and architects sought emotion, movement, and variety in their works. (  drawings tend to overwhelm viewers with a bravura of detail and their massive scale (one untitled work is three by seven meters).  Her  montageA single pictorial composition made by juxtaposing or overlapping many pictures or designs. The art or process of making such a composition. Also, a rapid succession of different images or shots in a movie. (  of jet airliners, livestock, roller coasters, houseboats, and jumping fish suggest a wild, perverse social spectacles that pay homage to the act of collecting, inspecting and analyzing our built environment, producing subtle critiques of a material culture.  Inspiration for the drawings derives from the common public spectacles of small town cultural events, parades, floats, roadside attractions, and mascots.  Wayne Baerwaldt, 2002 -- Exhibition announcement for Float.

Norlen’s drawings take their subjects (and their titles) from social gatherings and sites in everyday life where the rules we are accustomed to become a little bit looser. However, if we look carefully we may find that her work is more than simply a  metaphorUsed in art as in speech. A term, regularly used for one object, is used for another and suggests a likeness between to the two.  for events and cultural rituals--it is diaristic, conveying internal dialogues and struggles, and functioning as a reaction to the strangeness of human behaviour. As such, it becomes not just a  critiqueA session where a skilled and knowledgeable person or artist discusses and gives feedback on the work of another artist.  of specific human events and actions, but treads also into territory of strife. If these are our dreams, we might ask collectively, then what do our nightmares look like?


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning