A native of New York City, Norma Minkowitz is a graduate of Manhattan's Cooper Union Art School, and has been an exhibiting artist for more than 55 years. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Montreal Museum of Fine Art, and more than 20 other national and international museums. In 2009, she was honored as a Master of the Medium by the James Renwick Alliance, a national organization that supports the acquisition of works by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution of American Art, Washington, DC. She is a recipient of a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts Grant, and was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council in 2003.
I have for many years been exploring the possibilities of crocheted, interlaced sculptures stiffened into hard mesh-like forms which often make statements about enclosures or entrapment, suggesting a shelter or cage from which there is no escape. Many of my figural sculptures address the passage of time, other transitions and are sequential. The web like fabric defines volume and form. Process becomes a part of the content and both structure and surface are achieved at the same time. In her essay “Drawn to the Edge”, Kathleen Whitney describes my work as “stunningly repetitive” and also writes, “The artist who is able to draw the viewer in through the marriage of concept and technique without over- reliance on one aspect or the other performs an extraordinary magic act.”
I seek mystery in the shadows of the work. The netting’s effect is to blur the shape within. There is often paint and stitched lines on the surface, which can at times be invisible and at other times obvious depending on the light, another important element in my work. I want the openness to convey a sense of energy as the viewer moves around my sculpture. My work retains implications of containment and psychological complexity while focusing on the human form, nature and the landscape. I am engaged in a process that weaves the personal and universal together. The interlacing suggests a delicate quality symbolic of the human condition, but conversely the pieces could also imply the strength of steel mesh. In many of my works twigs and branches are left inside and are visible in an eerie way through the exterior of the sculpture, often suggesting connections to the human skeletal or circulatory systems. I often dwell on the mysterious cycles of death and regeneration. Recently I have been filling the open spaces of the fiber’s netting with modeling paste having plaster like consistency. This process creates a surface that focuses on and highlights the lines I draw with stitches, introducing a bas relief of concept, energy and movement. I often highlight these drawn lines with colors of paint. Drawing continues to be important to me and I find that the threads and wires I use mimic the cross hatching and irregularities of my pen and ink drawings. My sculpture evolves into a three dimensional drawing.