my artist statement

Jen Norton, age 5

Yep, this is me about age 5, way before braces!

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jenny (written with a backwards “J”) who was terrified of everything in the world except maybe her mother. She would cry and hold onto chair legs when it was time to visit a friend’s house. She hid in the corner in preschool, misunderstanding the other kids’ friendly advances as attacks. She would not utter a word to anyone willingly and school psychologists suggested she might be “retarded.” She was debilitatingly shy, silenced by fear. She was obsessed with order and perfectionism. The world was a big, terrifying place full of people who were constantly prodding her to talk, smile, play and just be like the other kids. As she grew up, she got better at playing that game. She even managed to fool a few people into believing she was perfect so they would find no reason to criticize her. For a long time, she even believed her own story.

But perfectionism is over-rated. To believe in labels other people give you is to disconnect from who you are meant to be. To be too fearful to act is to deny God’s plan for your life. I am Jen. Sometimes Jennifer. No longer Jenny, although I am grateful for her strength and fortitude and history. I am an introvert, but no longer shy. I am smart enough to know I don’t know everything. I am kind, but have no patience with someone who lacks integrity. I try not to judge without context (but sometimes I do). I am passionate about color and pattern and stories with meaning. I am an Artist.

If it weren’t for art, I might never be able to share my story. Without art, you probably wouldn’t hear me anyway.

I don’t make art because I’ve been endowed with some divine knowledge that I must bestow on humanity. I create in order to figure out my own truths and story. I create to understand. I choose beauty over fear. Somewhere in the telling and making and sharing, a purpose has begun to emerge, and that makes all the difference.

My intent in my painting and design is to:

• honor the characteristics of the quieter side of the heart: Wisdom, Service, Stillness, and Generosity.

• inspire Commitment and Service to Home and Family as essential elements of a strong community and peaceful world.

• remind us all that Love is a Decision, not a feeling. It took me a long time to learn this, but once I did, everything else made sense.

• show that God is present in the details, the everyday things we do on the way to wherever we think we’re going.

• tell my story so you can tell yours so we both know we’re not alone.

I look forward to sharing this art conversation with you!

Jen Norton


I’ve got an “official bio” too, if you’re interested. Click here.