Visual Arts Alum Nora Griffin '11 in Solo Show at FIERMAN Gallery

Mădălina Telea Borteș
March 13, 2024

Moving Pictures, a solo show by Visual Arts alumna Nora Griffin '11, is currently on view at FIERMAN gallery on the Lower East Side—a gallery in fact founded by another Columbia alum, David Fierman (CC '05).

“I was on an Amtrak speeding West when the shadow of my hand on the plastic table in the café car became an animal, first a dog then a rabbit, or something else entirely,” says Griffin in her artist's statement. On the gallery’s walls, one sees several renditions of this shadow play. At times whimsical, at times mischievous, the animals that appear in Griffin’s paintings crop up out of corners, such as the chameleon in Chameleon (14 ½’ x 12,’ oil on canvas in artist’s painted wooden frame, 2024), a bright teal and burnt orange figure with undertones of royal purple set against a flat, serene lemon yellow backdrop; or the tri-colored rabbits in Time Piece (14 ½’ x 12,’ oil on wood, resin casts in artist’s painted wooden frame, 2024), arranged as a spinning mise-en-scène atop a blue and yellow checkered piece of wood.   

“I remember that the first moving pictures were born from looking out of train windows, the simultaneous rush of seeing and feeling. Back in my studio, I want to make paintings that will develop like dark room photography—an invisible, slow process under red light, then all at once a form appears,” Griffin explains. Indeed, in many of the paintings in this show, the form—like the cats in Moving Pictures (Shadow) (43’ x 39,’ dyed and collage fabric in artist’s painted wood frame, 2024) or Moving Pictures (43’ x 58,’ oil on canvas and linen in artist’s painted wooden frame, 2024)—pokes through, recedes, pokes through once more. 

Nora Griffin '11, 'Shadow Puppets (rabbit),' painting

Many of Griffin’s paintings are held in wooden frames, some hand painted, some wrapped in hand-dyed fabric, adding a sense of containment to these images that flitter and flick past. Often, a scene from one painting will reappear in another, such as the checkerboard that appears painted on canvas in a larger 45 ½’ x 27 ½’ format in Signs (2024). When considered together, it is apparent that for this show, Griffin has created a matrix of imagery that begets memory, meaning, hallucination, and symbol, a true “razzle dazzle camouflage effect,” as she notes in her statement.     

Moving Pictures by Nora Griffin is on view at FIERMAN Gallery until March 24, 2024. 

Nora Griffin was born in 1982 in New York, NY. Moving Pictures is her fourth solo painting show. For several years Griffin has worked with methods of framing painting, and the incorporation of personal imagery within abstract space. Moving Pictures builds upon her three previous shows, Liquid Days (2022) and Chartreuse (2018), both at FIERMAN, and Modern Love (2016) at Louis B. James. Other projects include: 1999 NYC Tees at FIERMAN in summer 2023 and upcoming at NADA NY 2024. Griffin has been the recipient of residencies at Carrizozo AIR in New Mexico; Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency in Granville, NY; Edward F. Albee Foundation in Montauk, NY, and BAU/Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. She currently teaches painting and drawing at Queens College and has been a visiting critic at New York Studio School, RISD, Cooper Union, Oberlin College, and Columbia University.