One New Work
Pamela Norrish: Magical Thinking

June 25 - September 5, 2016

Organized by Glenbow; curated by Nancy Tousley

Pamela Norrish, Outfit for the Afterlife (detail), 2015

One New Work is a series of three small focused exhibitions, curated by Nancy Tousley and mounted at Glenbow throughout 2016. Each exhibition features a new work by an Alberta artist shown in the company of other works or objects selected to set it within a context. The aim is to illuminate aspects of the artist's practice by emphasizing them.

The context can take many different directions. It might be provided by an artist's earlier, related works; preparatory sketches or maquettes for the piece on view; art from the museum's collection; artifacts or archival material from the museum's collection; art or artifacts from the artist's collection; and so on.

The second exhibition in the One New Work series, Pamela Norrish: Magical Thinking is centered on an extraordinary sculpture, Outfit for the Afterlife. At first glance it appears to be a simple T-shirt and pair of jeans, but these are not ordinary items of clothing. The T-shirt and jeans, which the 32-year-old artist made to fit her size, are constructed entirely from glass beads. They have been hand-woven and hand-stitched to create two shining garments. Each seed bead is 1.6 mm in size. The artist estimates that half a million beads were required to complete the "Outfit," which she worked on for five years.

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The idea of making an outfit to wear for eternity arose from Norrish's study of the history of beadwork and the experience of a personal loss. A T-shirt and jeans, the clothing she prefers to wear in the studio, seemed the most comfortable choice for the afterlife. However, more than simply work clothes, the transcendent "Outfit for the Afterlife" becomes a shimmering life-size amulet designed to ward off death, an embodiment of magical thinking.

"I bead representations of quotidian objects to suggest an alternate universe, an extraordinary beaded universe, where the everyday can transcend mediocrity." - Pamela Norrish

Outfit for the Afterlife is exhibited alongside a selection of items from Glenbow's collection that address the history of beadwork and the human condition of mortality in different ways.

About Pamela Norrish

Pamela Norrish studied at the Alberta College of Art & Design, Calgary, including one year abroad at the New York Studio Program at Parsons, The New School, New York, and the Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto. Norrish has attended artist residencies at The Banff Centre, the Ledge Gallery, Calgary; Mentoring Artist's for Women's Art (MAWA), Winnipeg, and Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto.

About Nancy Tousley

Tousley is an award-winning senior art critic, arts journalist and independent curator, who received the Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts for outstanding contribution in 2011. As art critic of the Calgary Herald for more than 30 years,Tousley became known for making art accessible and relevant to the general public. She was the first Critic-in-Residence at the Alberta College of Art + Design has been a contributing editor to Canadian Art magazine since 1986. Tousley has received numerous awards for outstanding achievement in arts journalism.


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