Christine Norton

Born in: 1956, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad

Lives in: Diego Martin, Trinidad

Media: Photography, Digital Photography, Mixed media

Describe your work in 3 words: authentic, energetic, evocative

See More Work:  Instagram @christinenortonphoto

Superheroes - Composite photograph on Fine Art Paper 24 x 24 in.

"I am a humanist photographer focusing on documentary and composite or mixed media work. I tend to use the photograph of the ordinary man or woman, often the fisher or market vendor, as a symbol of an island class. I want to convey empathy, attention, consideration. I sometimes add to that reality by distorting and exaggerating aspects of their lives or emphasize obstacles that stand in their way."

What themes does your work involve?
I love photographing everyday people in everyday life. I take people as they are when I do documentary photography but create my own visual stories when I do composite work. I live an island life currently so my themes revolve around local festivals, fishing and fishers, market scenes and characters that mark our Carnival. More recently my work centers on fantasising my observations of human behaviour and habits in a series I called: After Basquiat: Fragmented Imagery | Mischievous Thoughts. I was moved to create composite work on the impact of COVID-19 and the role of women. I am currently working on a series called, False Narratives, reflecting on our colonial past, the place of statues and monuments and the place of black people in a world that must become more equal to be sustainable.
Describe your creative process.
Usually my creative process begins with my observations of current affairs and everyday life. I sometimes reflect for some time trying to understand nuances and relationships. I am attracted to complexity and even chaos. The desire to express subtlety and diverse meanings leads me to work on what I see as a scale from documentary to composite work. In documentary work I try to capture the spirit of being there - the movement, the atmosphere the emotion. When I want to say more perhaps because I feel that documenting is not enough I simply create my own story. The work becomes a figment of my imagination. I am driven to filter it, digitally paint on it, I place figures at will and add sound or movement through the use of QR codes. I know I am done when my mind is at rest.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
I am inspired by human rights, equality, freedom and human behaviour. These interests underlie my work. The expression of my work however is influenced by traditional and contemporary art. The flair and light of art by Rembrandt; the every day human compositions by Steve McCurry, and the commentary and pen work of Basquiat. Many artists in countries in the Caribbean and Africa are taking on the unique settings, traditions, stories and bright color to carve out a space that is recognisably “south”. I am inspired to break the traditional rules of documentary photography to bear witness in a new way through storytelling. My desire to transport the viewer into a space where they stay for a while to see and listen to the story makes me make art.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Good art is bounded. Great art is boundless. The former depends on the viewer’s culture, bias, exposure, preferences whereas the latter blows away the mind and opens up the spirit. Nothing matters but the art itself and the message it contains.
What is the role of the artist today?
Artists show society the way forward and sometimes clarify the past. They are the soul of society and in daring to create art for the public domain, they release the fear of opinion. Contemporary art is a powerful networker. As artists around the world step forward to share their stories and color, one can expect a richer, more engaging field. A soul alive. A better world.

 


This interview was published by Circle Foundation of the Arts. © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist