Ready for a game of Art Tag?

Editor’s note: We are kicking off a new series called Art Tag. Here’s how it works. Local artist Andrea Stokes got the ball rolling in the March 31 issue of KT by “tagging” one artist for a profile. That artist will “tag” another, who will then be the subject of the next Art Tag profile. Ready? Read on!

By Andrea Stokes –

I decided to kick off Art Tag with my favourite Kitchissippi artist, Patti Normand. I recently met up with Patti in her light-filled studio on Laurel Street. Patti was working on her small-scale dioramas (tiny scenes of slices of life) which she constructs and exhibits under various sized glass domes, and in Plexiglas wall-mounted boxes. Patti is currently working on a show which will be taking place at Wall Space Gallery in October.

Patti Normand's little worlds make her laugh, and each little world instantly demands the viewer to construct a corresponding narratives. Photo by Andrea Stokes
Patti Normand’s little worlds make her laugh, and each little world instantly demands the viewer to construct a corresponding narratives. Photo by Andrea Stokes

Patti is a talented local artist who works in diverse media, and has been a very active part of our community’s art scene for well over a decade. She concentrated on painting for many years but was often frustrated by what she felt was a lack of resolution with her work in that medium. About six years ago, she was asked to contribute a piece of her work to a fundraiser. She thought she’d try something a little different so she chose to make a miniature sculpture, or diorama instead. She had a great response and felt she’d found a medium in sculpting and composing her miniature worlds that really worked for her. These tiny snippets of life under glass have become one of her main focuses. Patti’s little worlds make her laugh, and each little world instantly demands the viewer to construct a corresponding narrative.

When Patti began documenting her sculptures by taking photos of them, she realized that by blowing up the photographs of the tiny scenes in her sculptures, she was creating a sense of other, different realities, and soon began exhibiting the photographs as well.

Patti was recently given an Award of Merit from the AIDS Committee of Toronto’s SNAP competition, where she exhibited her work alongside some of Canada’s foremost photographers.

Patti Normand, shown here with the work of one of her favourite local artists, Alison Smith-Welsh. Photo by Andrea Stokes
Patti Normand, shown here with the work of one of her favourite local artists, Alison Smith-Welsh. Photo by Andrea Stokes

I asked Patti to choose her favourite Kitchissippi artist to talk about, and she was delighted to be the first to play a round of “art tag” for KT.

Patti met Kitchissippi artist Alison Smith-Welsh a decade ago, when they were both working on exhibits and props for the Museum of History. Patti admired Alison’s skills as a sculptor, working with recycled metals and found objects. Both artists exhibited at the CUBE Gallery in its early days.

Patti is attracted to Alison’s aesthetics, her use of colour and form, and the way Alison works with the scale and size of familiar objects. The boots Patti is shown with here are made entirely of scrap metal. Patti says they look almost as though you could wear them, “but they’d be incredibly uncomfortable.” I asked Patti if she thought that might be part of Alison’s commentary on fashion, and she concurred.

“The sculptures Alison creates are often an interpretation of women’s fashion items,” says Patti. “And although they’re aesthetically attractive, they are sharp, edgy, and would be terrible to wear.”

In the next edition of Art Tag we’ll talk a bit more with Alison Smith-Welsh in her studio and ask her to tag her favourite Kitchissippi artist.

In the meantime, you can look at Patti’s work at pattinormand.com.

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