Highpoint is proud to present Todd Norsten: N O W H E R E, a survey of unique
monoprints Norsten created at the Highpoint Editions studio over the past year. Although graphically minimal and seemingly direct, observation and thought allow the viewer to peel back the layers of meaning created by the physical artistic materials, the artist’s own experiences and his razor-sharp wit. The rapid nature of monoprinting encouraged Norsten to experiment with the appropriated text and culturally recognizable imagery. He revisits subject matter with varied approaches throughout the creation of these prints, crafting an interconnected and dynamic body of work.
Norsten is a perpetual student and observer of all types of graphic mediums and has a rich knowledge of artists who have come before him. In all aspects of his artistic practice, he places equally high value on fine art and everyday human expression. Through his travels, which take him to anywhere from rural Nebraska to the center of Rome, Norsten notices something that most of us overlook altogether: the handmade sign.
According to independent curator Betsy Carpenter, “…examples of the authentic yet unacknowledged artistry of anonymous individuals parallels the subject matter of Norsten’s art and his raison-d’etre: the very human need to communicate, and inexhaustible drive to make art….There is an instant shock of recognition on Norsten’s part when coming upon plain-spoken, and at times, surprisingly personal handmade messages in the public realm. That someone took the time in this digital age to put something…analogue out into the world to get their point across is a constant source of astonishment. The materiality of the sign, whether it was stylistically painted with a readymade or original font, handwritten in pen, or created from commercially available plastic lettering, is of particular interest.” As the artist himself has described, “The way it is made says more about the maker than the words that they are trying to communicate.”
Through his practice, Norsten recalls and invokes these fleeting messages and images, using materials that he feels relate to the original sign. Through this artistic appropriation, Norsten elevates the content of the signage from “low” to “high” art. He does not simply create a trompe-l’oeil, although he intentionally and painstakingly re-creates accidental drips, stains, and random marks. Rather, he recreates and re-appropriates the text and colors through his own lens, one which is well aware of appropriation’s long and storied past within art history.
As Carpenter has concluded about the artist’s latest body of work, “…Norsten has cast a wide net in gathering and archiving found, visual ephemera as he moves through this increasingly mad world and in so doing, brings all of the absurdity, disgust, poeticism, frustration, and humor in his intellectual and emotional arsenal together with his inescapable drive to be a maker of things.”