Norma Bassett Hall was born in Halsey, Oregon, in 1888. Just eighteen years later, she entered the School of the Portland Art Association in its first year, and by 1929, had achieved national recognition for her art. Yet, with her local roots and strong ties to Oregon art, her work has never been the feature of a solo exhibition in Portland – until now.
While Basset Hall’s work was included in a group exhibition in 1930, it has been nearly ninety years since her striking color block prints have been on public view. The Oregon Historical Society is proud to host Norma Bassett Hall: Color Block Prints in Oregon Collections, an exhibition presenting a spectrum of Norma Bassett Hall’s thirty-five year career as a printmaker. The show features many prints from her personal collection including a notable cherry woodblock as well as a unique color block print from her 1922 portfolio, Some Prints of Cannon Beach.
Bassett Hall, who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1918, was educated in early twentieth century America when the Arts and Crafts Movement was the style of the day. Her training and education are apparent in the carving of the woodblock as a form of craft, as well as in the Japanese-influenced style and interpretation of her subjects. As was typical of Arts and Crafts artists, Bassett Hall found inspiration in the diverse landscapes that she encountered in her extensive travels that included Scotland, France, Oregon, Kansas, Virginia, and New Mexico.