The Universal Anthology

kipp in gallery  

Kipp Normand doesn't know what he's doing. Or at least that's what he will tell you. The celebrated, self-proclaimed junk artist recently sat down and talked to us about his new exhibit, The Universal Anthology, opening this Friday in the Harrison Gallery. Having recently made the transition from part-time to full-time artist, he discovered that along with his newfound freedom came some unexpected challenges. As he began thinking about this show, with no theme or sponsor's message to incorporate or time constraints of a 9 to 5 job, he had complete and utter freedom to create, well, whatever he wanted. Sounds good, but the desire to "do everything" sent him quickly down a crippling path of setting, then failing to meet, unrealistic and unattainable goals. So much for freedom. What he came to realize was that there could only be freedom to create when he set limitations. He had to let go of the desire to do everything. As he put it, "I learned that it is actually good to have rules and a schedule. Without them, I just want to curl up in the fetal position. Well . . . yeah."

In making The Universal Anthology, Normand has branched out, experimenting with different materials, different themes. He has discovered things about himself. He found that he likes to make work in the early hours of the morning when there are fewer distractions. He started in his living room, alone with just his materials, his cat, Lamont, and the radio. He admits that the anxiety-provoking news of late worked its way into some of the pieces. Moving on to his studio, he found himself surrounded by piles of antique frames that he has been saving (in many cases, for years and years) for a special occasion. Finally understanding that the special occasion is now released him to break into his treasure trove and begin to "put it out there."


pile o frames

Pile of frames from Normand's studio

Normand says he is embracing his new life as a full-time artist and is especially excited about the time it affords him to learn from and collaborate with other artists. Some of the results can be seen in this show. You'll find cyanotype, a Civil War-era photographic process he learned from local artist Casey Roberts, traditional sign painting with artist Mark Miller as well as collaborative work made with fellow HCA studio artist Johnny McKee and tin-type photographer Dale Bernstein. He was also able to experiment with stop motion animation, something he has been interested in exploring for years, with help from C.T. Hankins and Kurt Nettleton. (Video below. Special appearance by Lamont the Cat.)

The Universal Anthology from Harrison Center for the Arts on Vimeo.

Final word from the artist: "It is good to take things a little bit at a time. And it's good to ask people for help . . . because they will help you."

Final word from me: Kipp Normand knows what he's doing. And he does it like nobody else.

Don't miss The Universal Anthology opening this Friday, September 2 with an artist reception from 6 to 10pm. The work hangs through September 30.