Andrew Stephen Norris

Human sexuality, along with human identity, has always been on a sliding scale. We are not born fixed, we do not live fixed, and we do not die fixed. Therefore, why are we encouraged to have one identity, and to travel through life with that one identity? It is often ill-fitting, and in many cases detrimental to our mental health and well-being.

Some artists are beginning to address the peculiarities of societies rules concerning sexual identity and gender identity, particulary those who it affects personally and deeply, one of those artists is Andrew Stephen Norris. 

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 1

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 2

Andrew is an artist that deals with his own journey of gender role identity. That identity is locked in at an early age. We are defined by standards and expectations, whether we are identified by others as a boy or as a girl. We have to play the game, and if we don't play the game by the set rules, there are consequences.

Most of us are policed, either passively or aggressively from birth as to our gender roles. Andrew remembers the first expectations of what it is to be male, being reinforced by comic books, comic books play a big role in Andrews work. Comic book superheroes were invariably male, and were invariably strong and dominant. They played the role they were expected to play, because society had set the rules for the male gender.

Andrew Stephen Norris: Balance

Andrew Stephen Norris: Dangerous

Toxic Masculinity, is a series of work by Andrew that captures the elements of constructed masculinity that is at the core of both comic books and advertising for males. By combining models from Calvin Klein advertising, along with the costumes of superheroes, Andrew picks up an the masculine gender role that has been constructed by society as a norm.

Violence, emotional detachment, and sexual aggressiveness are employed by the constructs of society as the gender norm for males. By combining comic book and advertising, Andrew is helping to question the absurdity of the alpha male. Super hero and super model collide into Toxic Masculinity, showing up through exaggerated gender norms, the difficulty of expectations of maleness. 

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 4

Andrew Stephen Norris: Toxic Masculinity 3

Many men don't identify with the gender roles that are tagged as masculinity. This often leads many into dysfunctional and often destructive habits, often lifelong ones. Overcompensating, or undercompensating maleness is a serious issue, particulary when it comes to the treatment of women.

As individuals, we are not our gender, our gender is a reflection of us. However, that is not the norm as yet, and so we have generation after generation of standardised gender roles that have no way of fitting the individual, because they were never meant to.

Andrew Stephen Norris: Testosterone

Andrew Stephen Norris: Virile

In another series of work, Andrew identifies through a series of portraits, key elements of masculine identity of self. Each portrait is given an identity, that identity is the personal definition of masculinity of the sitter, as seen from their childhood definition. None of the titles in this series are wrong or misplaced, but they do speak volumes about the narrow confines of gender identity, and in that there is an element of sadness and neglect.

As we drift further away from the binary definition of gender, as we begin to explore who we are in ourselves, we begin to re-identify ourselves, not as who we were told we were, but who we feel we are. In this we are helped by the contemporary art world, and by artists such as Andrew Stephen Norris who question the standards imposed on us from outside, and that can only ever be a good thing.

Andrew Stephen Norris: Illusion

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