VanNorden’s Human Canvas

New on the Johnson State College art scene, coming this spring, is Abstract Attributes, the body painting project you didn’t know you were waiting for.

Morrisville native and JSC sophomore Allison VanNorden, known across campus as Al, is the artist putting on this project, which is centered on the body painting of 30 participants. But it isn’t just a project to see how cool paints look on skin. “I want each person involved in the project to gain something from it,” said VanNorden.

VanNorden draws her inspiration for this project from sources and ideas stretching back years. “I was in a program in high school…where you got to design your own classes,” she said. I got to design my own classes, and do really cool things that I was interested in. It built up my ability to come up with things that are interesting, that I just wanted to do for no reason.”

This new endeavor marks a turning point of sorts for VanNorden. “I’ve never painted something so large,” she said. “I feel like I’ve limited my painting to very small canvases, and they’re all the same thing; the same kind of paint, boring stuff. I mean, it’s not boring, but it’s starting to become boring. So I want to experience that.”

Models will bring their own ideas to their sessions, images and themes of what they want to be covered in. “I want them [the model] to have the fun experience of just doing something that sounds really cool, like painting your body, and I also want them to be able to connect to something deeper…to express that in a cool way,” said VanNorden.

One particularly inspiring source for this project was the music video “Somebody that I used to know” by the artist Gotye, featuring Kimbra. In the video, Gotye and Kimbra are slowly being painted over in geometric patterns. “Ever since I saw that, I’ve wanted to full body paint someone,” said VanNorden.

When the idea for this project was but a somewhat fleshed out concept, she went on to Facebook, seeking volunteers. “I had an overwhelmingly positive response,” said VanNorden. “So I got more people, and I developed an idea, and I wanted this to be important. So I developed the idea of passions into it.’”
Model will bring a passion of theirs into these sessions, to see their passions made flesh. Or in this case, made into paint. “The thing that they’ll represent is a passion…anything that is meaningful to them that they want to express” said VanNorden.

Within each session, there will be at least five people participating. VanNorden hopes to have a videographer, a photographer, a journalist, the model, and herself present for each of these paintings.
Upon completion of all 30 sessions, the pictures, articles and videos will be uploaded to the Tumblr page made for this project. “Abstract-attributes, which is the URL for it,” said VanNorden, strives for simplicity in its title.

And all of this will take place in early 2016, starting in early January. “I haven’t done exact math yet, but it’s probably going to be around two people a week,” said VanNorden. While each session will be a pretty lengthy commitment, two to four hours each, it will hopefully be a really fun commitment as well. “[It will be] really cool because I got to paint all kinds of different people, and hear all kinds of different stories,” said VanNorden.