Andrew Norris (b. 1993) creates figurative oil paintings that explore how the often-disparaged forms of Americana and heartland kitsch can be recharged as instruments through which to generate and explore queer identities. He received his BFA in 2016 from East Tennessee State University and his MFA in 2021 from the University of Florida alongside a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies through the Center for Gender, Sexualities and Women’s Studies Research.
Andrew's work has been featured in New American Paintings, Out.com, and the Advocate and has been included in national juried exhibitions including the 2021 Young Painters Competition at Miami University juried by Kelly Baum, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Andrew was selected to attend the Atlantic Center for the Arts residency where he studied with Will Cotton, Senior Critic at the New York Academy of Art. Andrew is currently a Lecturer in Drawing / Artist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay.
They wakened the boy at daybreak, the Scarecrow saying to him: ‘We have discovered something queer, and therefore we must counsel together what to do about it.’
(L. Frank Baum, The Tin Woodman of Oz, p.500)
My work seeks to complicate the role of portraiture by engendering a focus on queer representation. Through the act of recontextualizing celebrity photoshoots, I create digital collages that collide appropriated imagery of pop culture that are translated to oil painting that elevates the individuals I choose to represent.
Growing up in the Appalachian South, I was fascinated by icons like Daniel Boone, Johnny Appleseed, and Dolly Parton that personified an extreme performance gender as well as serve as a personification of the region’s attitudes toward regional pride and heteronormativity. I choice to depict celebrities in my work as a way to subvert this association and to navigate my upbringing as a gay man growing up in the Appalachian south.
My work is an exploration of the intersection of contemporary portraiture and queer representation in popular culture. I choose to depict celebrities in my work as a way to subvert expectations of representation as well as to negotiate the long history of queer liberation through mainstream celebrities, specifically musicians who push gender norms. To further establish the figures as canonized icons, the use of traditional portraiture and Americana imagery becomes an important strategy to navigate the tension of metronormativity and the journey to finding a queer utopia.