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Water Donky Visions, Selected By Nick Norman (online exhibition)

About the exhibition

While I was looking through the NIAD archive picking out works for this show, I was having a difficult time putting into words exactly what I was looking for for this body of work. I had the pieces picked out, yet I could not articulate what was shared in these works into words. Until I saw an untitled Sara Malpass piece which said: “Water Donky Visions” in fantastic yellow, teal and red colors. Perhaps you think this is silly or sarcastic, but I take it quite literally and I knew immediately that was what I was seeing: the visions of a water donkey- Visions crisper and cleaner than the cart of water being pulled behind it. Visions so unwavering that most would be scared and confused at their meaning and directness. I imagine the donkey as dutiful, curious, and mysterious, never divulging its true intentions, but always moving with a sense of urgency. What does the donkey consider walking back and forth on the long journey between the river and the stable?

There is an intensity and clarity to these pieces that rattles something inside of you awake, or seems like a sudden glimpse of something from beyond. The singularity and centrality of the imagery for me mimics the way we visually think or consider something in the mind, something so vivid, yet cannot always be articulated freely. These pieces contain a very strange and unique sense of humor that my spirit is unfathomably tickled by, eagerly awaiting another punchline. Words ooze from the core of these pieces, speaking to the viewer with a familiarity of a childhood friend, effortless, and with an overwhelming sense of truth. I am seized by the sense that I (we) have seen and have known these images for a long time, perhaps somewhere buried deep within us. These artists have expertly unearthed something so rare, so elemental that we didn’t even know we were looking for it.

About the selector

Nick Norman is a drawer and ceramicist based out of Philadelphia. Nick creates works informed by personal narratives, humorous observations, contradictions, and "bad ideas". Nick also works in the comics medium, exploring themes of isolation, family, and history. He has contributed to several comics anthologies, and self published many works on his own.


Recently Nick's work has been shown at OKP store in Tokyo, Japan; Kamihira in Philadelphia, PA;  Melanie Flood projects in Portland OR; Harpy Gallery in Rutherford, NJ; Pictureroom and Enorme in NYC. In 2019 He contributed to the comics anthology Happiness, and is currently working on a vegan cookbook with IFIAAR.