Finding Home: Blending Visual Art and Poetry Exhibit

Finding Home: Blending Visual Art and Poetry Exhibit
July 30, 2019

Finding Home: Blending Visual Art and Poetry Exhibit
July 30 – August 24 • Jo Ann Rose Gallery

Reception and Special Reading: Saturday, August 3, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


Featuring Visual Artist Morgan Johnson Norwood and Poet Sally Toner

Visual art meets poetry in Finding Home, a collaboration between visual artist Morgan Johnson Norwood and poet Sally Toner at RCC Lake Anne’s Jo Ann Rose Gallery.

The exhibit has a distinct relationship to location, as both artists come from a long tradition of defining “home” with a physical construct.

Finding Home is a journey, artistically and personally, from Reston to Arlington,” says former Reston resident Norwood. “I am personally deeply connected to a sense of place. I come from a very long line of Georgians, and at a young age felt the urge to move away and start my own story. My experiences of independence, my grief over the death of my father, and marriage and motherhood kept me feeling the intense need for planting roots.”

Reston resident Toner, whose first book Anansi and Friends is due out this summer, also traces her lineage to Georgia and Virginia. Her relationship with these origins, and the people who represent them for her, play a key role in her work.

“Much of my auditory sensibility with spoken language comes from my grandfather -- his Georgia accent, smooth syntax, and the audacious storytelling to which I always had a front-row seat,” said Toner. “Finding Home transcends the man-made elements of both Reston and Arlington to find truth in nature and energy in the urban sphere.”

This exhibit, however, isn’t just about geography. Both artists also address in their work the effect of loss in their lives and the lives of many women today. Norwood experienced a divorce that necessitated her relocation, and Toner is two years removed from a bout with breast cancer that impacted her writing.

“Sally has gone through cancer and faced fear and reevaluated her priorities, and I have gone through divorce and loss and also faced fear and reevaluated mine,” Norwood said. “I see our conversation as a universal one of transformation and upheaval and then finding that sense of safety and love.”

Highlights of the exhibit include the paintings Pyre and Heartstrings and the pair of “erasures” -- poetry that utilizes previously written work -- that accompany them.

“I found myself falling into Morgan’s abstraction,” Toner said, “but also looking to classic forms to try and grab a foothold in the past, and its innocence, before experiencing the future. William Blake’s The Tyger and The Lamb seemed the perfect complement, and I do a little flipping around of these romantic concepts.”

“Aesthetically, my paintings include small circles and holes, which respond to the nurturing small spaces within seed pods, items that once held fertile objects within their walls and have since been propelled into the atmosphere,” said Norwood. “Notice the circular forms, the branches, the leaves, and how they echo the human forms of hair follicles, neurons, blood cells, and capillaries. We are all connected. Heartstrings is a painting that seems to especially claim this theme.”

These two artists, also educators, are looking forward to sharing their experiences with a local audience.

“I love that this show is a conversation across media and geography. We are both teachers, both friends, both love Reston, and both former neighbors,” Norwood said. “The arts have this marvelous way of processing information and creating a story.”

Morgan Johnson Norwood - HeartStrings



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