Orlando Museum of Art presents first solo exhibition for Norma Canelas Roth

“Norma: Selected Works by Norma Canelas Roth,” presented by the Orlando Museum of Art, is the first exhibition solely featuring the works of Norma Canelas Roth. It will focus on Norma the artist, posthumously celebrating her talent and generous spirit. The exhibition will open on Friday, October 20, and be on view through Sunday, January 28, 2024.  

The style of Roth’s paintings is closely related to those of Miriam Shapiro (a longtime friend) and other artists of the Pattern and Decoration Movement who were prominent in the 1970s and 80s.  

“As an artist, educator, collector, and patron, Norma had a profoundly positive impact on the OMA,” Marena Grant Morrisey, OMA Executive Director, 1977-2012, said. ”She was not only interested in contemporary American art, but she was also fascinated by art from around the world.  Although she did not promote herself, she was passionate about advancing the art of specific artists and diverse cultures.”  

Norma Canelas Roth graduated from Rollins College with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a concentration in painting and art history. She continued her studies with graduate courses at the University of South Florida, Tampa. Norma maintained a studio and continued her painting practice for 30 years until about 1985 when she and her husband Bill turned their attention to building an encyclopedic collection of textiles, and adornment created by traditional cultures worldwide.

Drawing on her years of training in art history, applying intensive research and gifted eyes, the couple created one of the most distinguished collections of its kind in the United States. Their achievement has been recognized three times in Arts and Antiques Magazine which listed them among America’s Top 100 Collectors.  

Norma Canelas Roth and her husband also collected contemporary art and in 1977 they were among the early collectors of a group of artists associated with the Pattern and Decoration Movement. These artists were closely aligned with morma Canelas Roth’s interest in the women’s movement, contemporary women artists, and the art of non-Western cultures which were then marginalized by an art world dominated by white men.

A number of the Pattern and Decorative artists such as Miriam Schapiro, Tony Robbin, Jane Kaufman, and Robert Zakanitch, became close friends and mentors in the development of Norma’s most successful and prolific body of work produced in the late 70s and early 80s. Roth’s work was first exhibited at the OMA in 1984 when it was included in the museum’s Annual Juried Exhibition, followed by a three-person exhibit of the winners.  

Norma and Bill Roth have been involved with the Orlando Museum of Art since 1983 when OMA organized the exhibition Pattern and Decoration Works from their collection. During the decades that followed, Bill and Norma gifted over four hundred artworks to the museum and have lent extensively to OMA exhibitions. 

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