Have you met our Mr. Normand?

Did you ever know someone who was so unique, so interesting that you wished everyone you knew could know them, too?  That’s how we feel about our friend and artist, Kipp Normand who has had a studio at the Harrison Center for roughly a decade. 

Stepping into his studio alone is an awe-inspiring experience, its stacks of treasures from bygone eras just begging to be explored.  But there’s more here than a talented artist with  an intriguing studio space.  You see, when you least expect it, he might stroll into the office, ukulele in hand and launch into his rendition of “Has Anybody Seen My Gal.”  Next, he might regale you with delightful stories of a recent trip to his beloved hometown of Detroit.  Run into him on Christmas Eve?  There is a good chance he will be sporting  the best vintage Santa costume you’ve ever seen.

Normand is a self-professed hoarder, but in the best sense of the word.  He seems almost a magnet for all that is fascinating, but forgotten or underappreciated in the world.  And though his “stuff” threatens to overtake him completely, it’s hard to keep from encouraging him to collect more . . . because no one puts it all together in quite the way he does.  His assemblages, often incorporating scraps and bits of broken items others would never dream of saving, elevate these objects and create something that is both beautiful and compelling.  Each piece becomes a springboard for viewers to use to compose their own stories from some undefined time past.

This week is the annual Heartland Film Festival.  One of this year’s award winners, local photographer and filmmaker Jonathan Frey has made a short film titled “Kipp Normand”, that winsomely documents the artist at home and in his studio.  In scenes filmed in Normand’s home, Frey draws you in to this world of artfully arranged dishes, books, religious icons, a wall of men’s straw hats, a medicine cabinet that appears as carefully curated as one of Normand’s installations, and more.  With help from the sun pouring through the windows of this tiny bungalow, Frey captures colors that are sometimes vibrant, sometimes washed out, but always inviting.  Listening to Normand describe how he got started in the “junk game” at age 5 or watching him playing the fiddle in his studio with a group of musician friends, you realize that this is a man gifted with the ability to tell a story in many different ways.  And we are charmed by them all.

We’d love to introduce you to our friend, Kipp.  Thanks to Jonathan Frey for giving us the opportunity.

For more information on the Heartland Film Festival and show times for Kipp Normand and other 2012 Heartland award-winning films, visit their website at http://www.trulymovingpictures.org/heartland-film-festival/

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