I sculpt the figure to express yearning. I am intrigued by inner conflicts and the ability to overcome what seems insurmountable. Although these aspects of the human condition are timeless - their expressions change with time.
Life now is imbedded in increased uncertainty, mobility and isolation. These aspects have prompted a new dictionary of aesthetic forms that deliver a message of rawness, "process" and speed. No longer anecdotal, pleasing and "finished", the contemporary figure reflects on old issues in a manner which anchors it in the here and now.
My over-life-size standing-alone figures are contemporary in their interpretation. I use bronze-casting method to create un-decorative figures that convey their raw truth in rough, scarred and "grated" surface. Their universality strips them from any detail of time and place, but their struggle between strength and vulnerability sends out a current voice.
My choice of gender serves the statement: males carry a single dominant quality, while females embody a sense of duality. In contemporary life, I find that females’ conflict has taken a new expression: while their muscularity and large size reflects on the gender’s newly acquired strength, their movement continues to convey vulnerability. I exaggerate both aspects and increase the emotional nakedness by leaving the women bald.
Sculpting parts of the body - hands in particular - is a way of "framing" the message. Physically, the hands are the paragon of a movement and the quickest to react; architecturally, they are versatile as they change their appearance with every movement; and emotionally, they are often used for gestures of conflict and yearning. As standing alone sculptures, hands lose their gender’s identity and act as a metaphor of enduring desire to reach out and connect.
Connectedness is what we have lost – and yearn for. It is a wonderful testament to human resolve that experiencing life with greater anxiety has not diminished the power of yearning. Although it stems from absence, yearning holds the promise that in the conflict between reality and desire – desire wins to take us beyond current boundaries.
The personal interpretation of the figure in Sassona Norton’s large and dramatic bronze sculptures is evident in earlier paintings.
After graduating Tel Aviv University in literature and theatre, Norton exhibited in numerous group shows repeatedly winning “Best of Show”. Her first solo in her early twenties, was praised by the Jerusalem critic for its “personal vision”. While painting she also published articles about art in “Yediot Acharonot”, Israel largest daily.
In 1974, Sassona Norton immigrated to the U.S. and enrolled for the next four years in the Art Students’ League, where she won the Isabel Bishop Merit scholarship.
In 1980, “A Yellow Night”, Norton’s large reclining nude, was published in “Twentieth Century Masters of Erotic Art” by Bradley Smith (Crown Publishers, NY) which includes works by Picasso, Rodin, Calder and Dali
In 1981, Norton was chosen for the traveling show “Eight Young New Yorkers on the Horizon”.
In 1983, “The Rain Prayer”, a large painting of hands, was published in the 16 volume series “Discover Art” by Laura H. Chapman (Davis Publications).
In 1984, a second solo show in New York, at Sutton gallery, was praised by the critic Peter Fingesten for its “strength, poetic, erotic, masculine, intellectual and sculptural nature”.
In 1999 after 10 year involvement in architectural projects of design and installation, Norton shifted from painting to sculpting exclusively.
In 2002, Norton won the Huntington merit medal for her sculpture “The Edge of Rest” at “The National Arts Club” New York.
In 2003, she won an international competition to sculpt the largest 9/11 Memorial in Pennsylvania. The $200,000 memorial consists of a pair of 8-feet tall hands rising on top of a tilted column and lifting to the sky an I-beam from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The close-to 20-feet tall memorial was installed in Norristown in September 2005.
In 2006, Norton had a major show of her sculptures at the Morris Museum, Morristown New Jersey. The show was extended by popular demand to over 6 months. The hard cover book “Sassona Norton Sculpture”, published by the museum in connection with the show, includes articles by Ann Landi and Hilarie Sheets of ARTnews and The New York Times.
“The work here”, wrote Star Ledger art critic, Dan Bishop, “has vigorously modeled surface and expressively exaggerated details…the sensual tension of bodies or limbs in convulsive movement is everywhere…the human figure is struggling to break free, possibly the oldest tradition in sculpture that we have”.
In 2007, The Morris Museum chose to celebrate the opening of a new wing with a show that centered on Norton’s sculpture. The show titled “Sculpture by Sassona Norton and from The Permanent Collection” was on view through 2009.
The show coincided with the publication of Norton’s sculpture in the prestigious Henry Buhl art calendar. The sculpture “To Whom Do I Pray” was purchased by Henry Buhl in 2005 and was shown in 2008 at the Norton Museum in Palm Beach, Florida.
In February 2008, the video, “A Memorial Journey”, on the construction of Norton’s 9/11 Memorial was shown at the international art fair in Stockholm, Sweden.
In March 2008, Norton was appointed as a co-curator for the “Fresh Perspectives” show at the Morris Museum.
In July 2008, Norton was selected for the museum show exploring the endless applications of drawing.
In the summer of 2008, Norton showed her large sculpture “First Rain” in the Sculptors’ Guild outdoor installation “In-Site” on Governors Island, New York.
In 2009, the 9/11 Memorial, ”Memories of Sweetness” and “Unquenchable Thirst” were chosen to be published in “Best of America – Sculpture Artists”. The same year Norton was selected by the New Jersey Council on the Arts to lead a public conversation on art in the series of “Great Conversations”.
In the summer and fall 2010, "Touch", a 9-feet tall pair of hands was shown in “Encounters”, Sculptors' Guild show on Governors Island.
In Winter 2011, Norton’s sculpture “The Seed Cradle” was exhibited at "New Work", the Sculptors' Guild show at Broadway Gallery, Soho, NYC.
In March of 2011, “To Whom Do I Pray” was the central sculpture in “The Buhl Hand Collection”, at the Photography Center, the museum for photography in Palm Beach, Florida.
A solo show of Norton’s work was exhibited at the Tambaran Gallery in New York in April 2011.
In May 2011 Norton was selected from 8 other sculptors in Europe and the U.S. by the Swedish Advertising and Branding Bjorn Bertoft to sculpt a monument for anti-doping in sports on the occasion of the pending Olympics in London to honor Professor Arne Ljungqvist, Member of the International Olympic Committee and Vice President of the World Anti-Doping Committee. The project was delayed for lack of funds.
In November 2011, “Touch” was chosen by Aesthetica UK to be included in the collection of the best international creative works for 2012.
In October of 2012, Norton’s sculpture “A Rising Issue” was shown in “OPENINGS” , the Sculptors’ Guild show at the Dumbo Gallery.
In the summer 2013, "Into the Wind" was shown in “Rising Tide”, Sculptors' Guild show on Governors Island.
Sassona Norton is a member of The International Sculpture Center, The National Sculpture Society, The Washington Sculptors Group, The Royal British Society of Sculptors (ARBS), and is on the board of Sculptors’ Guild.
Henry Buhl, New York
Ivan Greenstein, New Jersey
The Ambassador Swaenee Hunt, Massachusetts
Lee Longell, New Jersey
Peter Migliorato, Florida
Sally Minard & Norton Garfinkel, New York
Harry & LynnO’Mealia, Maryland
Elizabeth Palay & Ed Feige, Wisconsin
Craig Ponzio, “Art Investments”, Colorado
Morris Museum, New Jersey
“Aesthetica – Creative Works Annual 2012”: 2011. Published by Aesthetica Magazine UK
“Best of America – Sculpture Artists”: 2009. Edited by Adam P. Kennedy and Renee Kennedy. Kennedy Publishing
“LifeStyle”: February 2008, “Building an Artistic Future” by Alina Makhmovetsky.
“LifeStyle”: February 2008, 9/11 Memorial on Front Cover, “Public Art: Top Designers & Architects”.
“Art and Antique” Weekly: January 4, 2008, “Morris Museum Presents Sculpture In New Space”.
“The Putnam County Courier”: March 15, 2007, “Martin Luther King Jr. Stature and 9/11Memorial Crafted in Putman County” by Eric Gross.
“Somerset Magazine”: Fall 2006, “Bronze Ambition” by Holly Lehr-Hahn.
“NJN Television”: September 2006, “Art as a Healing Force” feature Sassona Norton 9/11 Memorial.
“The Star Ledger”: June 11, 2006, “9/11 memorial and Morris exhibit in good hands” by Dan Bischoff.
“Philadelphia Inquirer”: September 9, 2005, “9/11, The human touch – Monument honors 9/11 Sacrifice” by Jeff Shields.
“Philadelphia Inquirer”: July 5, 2005, “9/11 Memorial Takes Shape” by Jeff Shields.
“Times Herald”: December 7, 2004, “Artist Talks About Power of Sept. 11 Memorial” by Carl Hessler, Jr.
“The Bernardsville News”: July 8, 2004, “Sculptor to create a piece of history” by Sandy Stuart
“T.V.: Channel ABC”: Action News April 2004.
“Associated Press”: April 24, 2004 News.
“The Mercury”: April 24, 2004, “Montco Picks Sculptor for Sept. 11 Memorial” by Margaret Gibbons.
“Intelligencer”: April 24, 2004, “Hands of Hope to Rise at Court House” by Melissa Milewski.
“NPR Radio”: April 23, 2004, Interview in connection with winning the international competition to design and build the 9/11 Memorial in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
“Philadelphia Inquirer”: April 23, 2004, N.Y. “Beam in 9/11 memorial” by Jeff Shields.
“Time Herald”: April 22, 2004, “Sculptor to create Sept. 11 Memorial” by Margaret Gibbons.
“Philadelphia Inquirer”: January 30, 2004, “Finalists named for 9/11 Memorial” by Jeff Shields.
“Artspeak” January 1984 - Review of Sutton Gallery show by Peter Fingesten.
“Discover Art” by Laura H. Chapman, Davis Publications, Volume V, Chapter 20: “Hands”.
“Twentieth Century Masters of Erotic Art” by Bradley Smith, Crown Publishers Pg. 168.