Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea presents American artist T.J. Dedeaux-Norris’ first Italian solo show. This exhibition marks a turning point in this artist’s personal and artistic life: formerly known as Tameka Jenean Norris- now come to a new stage of their ever-shifting persona(a). T.J. is not a denial of previous experiences but rather a way to rejoin origins and unearth the past and manifest the future. T.J. is an abbreviation of her extended name, counterbalanced by the addition of her mother’s family name – Dedeaux – before the already existing ‘Norris’. Introducing Dedeaux-Norris is, once more, another way to define the variety of aspects of the cultural contamination between the artist’s French-Creole and African American roots which impregnate the entire series of works here on display, in an attempt to explore personal and artistic identity as being more “fluid”.
Thus, “fluidity” is the driving force that urges the artist to disclose intimate parts of self to offer to the audience. Such is the recurring theme of T.J.’s scholarly and artistic research, while teasing out the stereotypes connected to gender, race, age and class. Independently facing new challenges, like finding oneself dealing with multi- banking, school loans, first time home ownership, mortgage loans or navigating the healthcare system while advocating for an elderly parent, has forced Dedeaux-Norris to a constant reshaping of identity and of the outward perception given to a society.
Most of the printed materials come directly from Dedeaux-Norris’ personal life, childhood and travels. The southern US, southern California, Harlem, NYC, India, Italy, The United Kingdom and France. The artist hopes that continued travel and research will continue to infuse and inform the work.
The fabric paintings in the present exhibition are therefore an extension of the artist’s experience of feeling “between”. On the margins, at the center, visible, invisible, critique and desire. Somewhere between tapestry, sheet, curtain, sculpture and painting. Unstretched in order to maintain the inherent feature of this kind of material – fluid and flexible. Unlike a framed work, they are not fixed, they need mobility- to be seen and heard. The artist here tries for the first time the process of printing directly on the fabric. Carefully selected records and flashes from personal archives: photographs of relatives, news clippings, unsent letters, preschool art, VIP casino play cards. These affixed images stand out on a patchwork of found and discarded fabrics, from which the original printings of these fabrics (an assortment of plantlike and floral patterns, camouflage print watermelon, picnic ants, monkeys, cherries and porn) peep out and surround the composition.
The artist is in fact opening a junk-drawer in a private room and letting the viewer in. But the power of this murky combination is that it puts into question what we believe to see.
T.J. Dedeaux-Norris was born in Guam and received an undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles before graduating with an MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2012. Dedeaux-Norris has recently participated in numerous exhibitions and festivals including at Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; Yerba Buena Museum, San Francisco, CA; Prospect.3 Biennial, New Orleans, LA; The Walker Museum, Minneapolis, MN; Performa 13; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX; and The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY, Rotterdam Film Festival, Rotterdam,Netherlands, Sundance Film Festival, New York, NY, Mission Creek Festival, Iowa City, IA among many others. Residencies include Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Fountainhead Residency, Grant Wood Colony Fellowship, The MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center and Yaddo. They are the 2017 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a 2018 National Endowment for the arts fellowship and is currently tenure track Assistant Professor at University of Iowa. Dedeaux-Norris’ solo exhibitions include “Tameka Norris: Too Good for You (Introducing Meka Jean)” at the Lombard Freid Gallery, New York (2014), “Almost Acquaintances” at the Ronchini Gallery, London (2014) and “Not Acquiescing” at the 1708 Gallery, Richmond (2015).