MCA Announces Visiting Artist John Harlan Norris

Contact: Natalie Fleenor
Communications Coordinator (901)272-5113

Sept. 23, 2016


John Harlan Norris_CommenterMemphis College of Art Announces Visiting Artist John Harlan Norris

Norris to present “Cons and Pros” exhibition and unveil new portrait series

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis College of Art (MCA) announces Visiting Artist John Harlan Norris, presenting his exhibition Cons and Pros, Oct. 7–Nov. 8 in the Rust Hall Main Gallery, 1930 Poplar Ave., Overton Park. A reception will take place Friday, Oct. 14 from 6–8 p.m., and Norris will present his Visiting Artist lecture on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 12–1 p.m. in Rust Hall’s Callicott Auditorium. Norris is a recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship, and has participated in studio residencies in New York and Vermont.

Cons and Pros features works from Norris’ ongoing Occupants portrait series, in which his subjects’ identities are both defined and obscured by visual signifiers of their daily roles and practices. Through his paintings and mixed media works, Norris explores a contemporary perspective on occupational portraiture, which historically described its subjects through the lens of their daily working lives. Cons and Pros will also signal the debut of a new portrait series for Norris, titled Disintegrants—an exploration into the elusive and abstract interior structures that form the psyche and notions of self. Featured works include oil paintings, works on paper and mixed media works incorporating digital inkjet printing.

“We all experience moments in which the roles we play in our daily lives come to define us in powerful ways,” said Norris. “In the pursuit of survival, prosperity, leisure, social status, and personal meaning, we often assume identities that both define and fail to define us. My current body of work explores the possibilities and limitations of our daily occupations in an age where we frequently change jobs, balance multiple roles, and cannot easily delineate between private and public life.”

Norris is an Associate Professor of Art at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in English and Studio Art from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in 2000, and his Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Drawing from Louisiana State University in 2005. Norris has exhibited extensively throughout the country at venues including Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, Plus Gallery in Denver, Colorado, the Contemporary Arts Center Las Vegas in Nevada, Florida State Museum of Fine Arts in Tallahassee, Florida and The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, among many others. A recipient of the Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship in 2012, he has participated in studio residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, New York and the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.

Featured works in Cons and Pros will be available for purchase. Proceeds support the artist directly, as well as MCA’s scholarship fund.

Norris’ exhibition and lecture are just two of many exhibitions, lectures and events that MCA hosts for the community throughout the year. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m., and Sunday noon–4 p.m. All MCA exhibitions, receptions and lectures are free and open to the public.

More information about upcoming exhibitions and events, including the Holiday Bazaar, can be found online at

Photo: John Harlan Norris, “Commenter,” oil on canvas, 56” x 42”, 2014

Memphis College of Art provides a rigorous curriculum in an intimate, diverse community to empower generations of leading artists, designers and educators to flourish professionally and contribute valuable ideas to society. MCA is fully accredited with expert, nationally renowned faculty and grants BFA, MFA, MA in Art Education and MA in Teaching degrees with graduates excelling in various careers across the country and internationally. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @memphisart.


Memphis College of Art does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or other status protected by law. Additional Information