American Iconography: Tara Blackwell and Cal Bocicault

12/16/2021 - 1/27/2022

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, December 16th  |  6 - 9 pm 

Spoken word by Shanna T. Melton at 7:20 pm

Live music presented by David DeJesus 7:30 - 9 pm

The Norwalk Art Space is proud to announce our next exhibition, “American Iconography” with Korry Fellow Tara Blackwell and invited artist Cal Bocicault. Daily life is filled with repetitive images and public figures that symbolize our time, place and shared collective history. These images are sometimes remembered fondly through our childhood lenses, while others may have altered our perceptions of the neighbor next door. This exhibition explores the power of imagery as a vessel to create change in our collective futures. Here we have two distinctly different artists that use iconic American imagery to reference and push the boundaries of feminism, social justice and African American identity. 


Tara Blackwell, a Korry Fellow at The Norwalk Art Space, uses nostalgic cartoons and icons from her youth to focus her viewer’s attention on what is familiar and “sweet.” These wistful images then become the stage for her discourse on national social movements that demand attention. Her light-hearted imagery keeps her work consumable and engaging, while it simultaneously dissects the complex and emotionally-charged conflicts in our society today. 


Cal Bocicault, on the other hand, tries to push back on historical black stereotypes and images by using himself, his family and friends as vessels to contextualize true black identity today. These highly stylized portraits are part of a concerted effort by him and many other artists, musicians, poets and performers to finally break the old and delusional visions of what it is to be a black man or woman in American society. Cal’s artwork honors the full spectrum of beauty in African American culture.


A Quilt and Illustration Exhibition:

Lizzy Rockwell / Friends + Family

2/3/2022 - 3/10/2022

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, February 3rd  |  6 - 9 pm

Performances by DJ Hauswife and Quiltet

Lizzy Rockwell is an artist who communicates and collaborates.  Her illustrations are visual narratives created primarily for children which adorn over 35 picture books, a 28’ long wall in the pediatric waiting room of the Norwalk Community Health Center, and numerous award-winning games produced by the toy company, eeBoo. Lizzy is the author of ten of her picture books, whose texts illuminate the mysteries and logic of the natural world, spark conversations about emotions and personal wellness, and show and tell how to make a quilt with friends. Her most recent titles as author/illustrator are How Do You Feel?,  I Love Insects, and The All-Together Quilt. 

Lizzy studied fine art and art history at Connecticut College and illustration at the School of Visual Arts. However, most of what Lizzy knows about making books, she learned as a child. Her parents, Anne and Harlow Rockwell made books in their home studios in New York City, and then Connecticut, when Lizzy and her brother and sister were growing up. From her parents, she also learned how to investigate a pond, make a potato print, look at a painting and sew a quilt. Lizzy collaborated as an illustrator on 19 books written by her mother, including Apples and Pumpkins and Hiking Day. Illustrations by Anne Rockwell and abstract woodcuts by Harlow Rockwell are included in this exhibit. 

The All-Together Quilt is the winner of the 2021 Connecticut Book Award in the picture book category. This book is Lizzy’s most personal, as it models the people and activities of Peace by Piece: The Norwalk Community Quilt Project.  Peace by Piece is an ongoing intergenerational after-school art program that Lizzy conceived and organized in 2008, with start-up funding from a local foundation. Lizzy was inspired to teach quilting to an intergenerational group after reading about the quilts of Gees Bend which were on exhibit at the Whitney Museum in 2002.  The bold designs and improvisational methods reminded her of her father’s abstract woodcuts, which were designed in paper collage, as well as some of her favorite modern artists, like Paul Klee and Kurt Schwitters.  The Gees Bend quilts created possibilities for intuitive design and collaborative methods which would bring people together, and offer therapeutic benefits for both young and old. Having grown up with a quilting frame in the living room during her adolescence where she stitched with her sister and friends after school, Lizzy thought she could replicate this joyful and calming pastime. The diverse group of Norwalk residents currently ages 8 – 93, meets in the community room of Senior Court Housing, managed by the Norwalk Housing Authority.  Together, the Peace by Piece quilters have made art quilts that hang in numerous institutions and libraries in Connecticut. These quilts are designed by Lizzy, and include contributions from others, in the form of drawings on fabric, improvisational patchwork piecing, and hand quilting. Since 2008 thousands of individuals have contributed in some way to these communal works of public art.  

Many of these works have been generously loaned to The Norwalk Art Space and are being seen together in one place for the first time. Along with the art quilts, which often communicate specific messages and use typography, like large fabric posters, there are personal artworks, created by the quilters, on display. 


The recent Peace by Piece members:

Maria Acosta, Jennifer Arpi, Almina Ball, Kerri Besse, Dot Byrd, Jocelyn Bacila Chara, Ernestine Cobb, Trinity Ebron, Jennifer Garcia, Nicole Garcia, Malissa Grey, Sanaa Jerry, Anna May Jerusavage, America Jiménez, Alana Klinka, Alex Leon, Angie Leon, Ashley Leon, Nadelin Loja, Maurice Montgomery, Doris Moreno, Betty Mungo, Sandra Naraborne, Connor Oatis, Fran Paris, Lindsey Punin, Nelaigedalise Reeves, Shaunessi Reeves, Tylor Reeves, Christine Sainsmyr, Kate Scully, Viola Sears, Joyce Trusty, and Anna Veccia - have contributed to pieces in this exhibit. 

Khalaf Jerry was an early member of Peace by Piece. Khalaf is a printmaker, painter, textile and glass artist from Norwalk, CT. He created this black and white abstraction, titled “Journey” specifically for this exhibit.

Denyse Schmidt is an internationally known quilt designer, craftsperson, fabric designer, and author, often referred to as “The Mother of Modern Quilting”. Denyse is a long-time friend to Peace by Piece donating materials, teaching skills, and hosting community quilting bees at her studio at the American Fabrics Building in Bridgeport, CT. On display here is Denyse’s “Hawaiian-Style Appliqué Quilt.”

Anne Rockwell was a children’s book author and illustrator who created 200 books for children, between 1961 and 2018. She wrote and illustrated concept books for the very young, non-fiction science, historical biography, and retellings of fables and mythology from around the world. While she illustrated most of her books, Anne collaborated as an author with many illustrators, including her husband, Harlow Rockwell, and daughter, Lizzy Rockwell.

Harlow Rockwell was an advertising art director, picture book illustrator, and abstract painter, printmaker, and sculptor.  He collaborated as an illustrator on dozens of books written by his wife, Anne Rockwell. 

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