Dancing, and Other Problems

A Very 2020 Sketchbook

Non-Fiction - Art/Photography
152 Pages
Reviewed on 07/13/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joanne Ang for Readers' Favorite

Dancing and Other Problems: A Very 2020 Sketchbook is a collection of sketches combined and organized into a book by Norville Parchment. Norville is a Portland artist in the field of user experience and visual design. During the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the whole world, these sketches were born. Amid a massive worldwide lockdown for an entire year, the sketches are the epitome of Norville Parchment’s surroundings at the time of being housebound. Join in a journey of humor and artistic appreciation you will never forget, no matter how hard you try! The sketchbook also includes a lot of white space for the reader’s creative juices to flow onto the pages.

Dancing and Other Problems is a unique sketchbook that drew my attention in an instant, and for very good reasons. Norville Parchment did a great job of building humor throughout the entire book. The art jokes made each piece of artwork intriguing, taking it a step further. And not to mention how funny it is - I could not stop laughing! I also really liked how the political situations within this book were turned into fun and entertaining sketches. The majority of the sketches are black and white, but the minimal and sporadic use of color makes them look very refreshing and inviting, which conveniently adds emphasis to the whole picture. I recommend this sketchbook to anyone who intends to have a lot of fun because I definitely did!

Rosie Malezer

Dancing and Other Problems is a clever collection of artistic flair and memorable facts written and designed by Norville Parchment. In breathtaking works of art with a message behind each portrait artwork, many similar to those of the vastly portrayed Banksy, Norville Parchment shares designs which are each presented within their own chapter titles ranging from Ice Breakers to Refreeze. Many retro song lyrics, historical facts, and other themes are simply breathtaking in the way that they are presented.

I am deaf, but it did not stop me from feeling and seeing the music - dance track and disco lights included - as I saw the images jump out at me from each and every page. The change in tone from music to a child's tantrum is fast-paced, as are the science puns in the form of Shrödinger's Cat vs. zombies. I only wish art books had been as upbeat and hip as this when I was young. From the largest design to the tiniest detail, Norville Parchment's illustrated bible of historical grandeur and humourous connotations certainly dusted off those unused parts of my brain which I forgot were even there. My love of art, film, and history has been renewed thanks to Dancing and Other Problems. I recommend it to readers aged fifteen years and over, especially if they fancy a new look at how art reflects so many aspects of our lives. The world needs more visually stimulating artwork such as this which gets those brain gears turning.

Vincent Dublado

Dancing and Other Problems: A very 2020 Sketchbook by Norville Parchment is a frenetic and surreal collection of line artwork that hides a question for the notoriously mysterious artist Banksy. This book possesses quintessential qualities found in today’s contemporary humor. The product of a quirky imagination, these sketches were conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic because just like other creatives, the author needed an outlet to release his imagination during self-quarantine. His original idea was to write a book about the user experience that somehow deviated into an anthology of line art, ice breakers, art jokes, micro love stories, and a flipbook—all triggered by a question that he feels the need to ask a famous graffiti artist. But like everyone else, he has no idea who Banksy really is, so he hides his question in his art to see what happens.

Dancing and Other Problems has a wonderful kind of absurdity. It has that kind of surreal quality that blossoms into creating a universe of its own where anything and anyone can be a good target or subject for absurdism. Norville Parchment has a comic sensibility with an unsettling weirdness, but you might find yourself groaning on some of his jokes—his puns in particular. But in a larger appraisal, his art appears to be a response to a world that has stopped making sense. If the universe is inherently irrational, then there is something about this book that will remind you of art as an indomitable tool for humor and social commentary. It revolutionizes visual humor with its metaphorical flirtations while cleaving to the classic tradition of compelling sight gags.

Eeva Lancaster

Dancing, and Other Problems is a collection of hand-drawn art by Norville Parchment. Some are humorous, some are designed to make you think. This book was originally created because the author had a question he wanted to ask Banksy, the world's most famous living artist but who also happens to have a secret identity. The author thought Banksy would like art jokes, and so he drew a lot of line art and hid his question "between the lines." I spent my time with this book appreciating the drawings of people and even animals because, ultimately, I felt this book is about that. It's about life. Different types of people in different walks of life, doing different things. I appreciated the diversity of life in the author's art.

When I opened the book and read the introductory notes from Norville Parchment, I emptied my mind and prepared myself to absorb whatever was in the next pages. Like when I enter a museum, I leave all biases at the door. Some drawings didn't mean anything to me. Some made me chuckle. I lingered longer on some pages so I could better understand the author's message. I liked the section with trivia. In all honesty, I cannot categorize this short art book. It's charming, interesting, the art is well done, and the time I spent with this book was worthwhile, definitely, but I truly don't know what to make of it, and that's ok. If you want to be flabbergasted and spend a few minutes appreciating art, I recommend you try this book. Art has a different meaning for every person. The messages contained within Dancing, and Other Problems will be received differently, depending on the person receiving them.

Jon Michael Miller

In the opening of Dancing and Other Problems by Norville Parchment, the author gives us a brief, enigmatic description of this unique and amazingly inscrutable creative art and puzzle book, suited, it is suggested, for coffee tables. Norville, as he prefers, explains our natural and instinctive recognition of line-drawn images even though few things in nature have lines. This book, however, has lines galore, and the author says that he begins with a conventional image before him, then he proceeds “digitally with all the forgiveness the process allows.” He tells us he giggled all the way through the book’s creation and infers that his giddy delight will be transferred to the reader in like manner. However, I was too flummoxed, flabbergasted, and futilely fumbling to utter a single titter—although I could imagine the author’s glee in creating such a response through his prose and incredibly captivating graphics.

I hesitate to describe Norvelle’s piece. For one thing, there are thousands of faces: upside down, sideways, recognizable, ordinary, historical, contemporary, and, most unusual, infused into parts of human bodies. I recognized Queen Elizabeth, Einstein, Bob Marley, Picasso, Brad Pitt, Snoop Dog, and others, including the author’s personal friends. It’s all brilliant, innovative, challenging, and after one’s fever quiets down, entertaining and delightful. I particularly snickered when I saw the numbers of Pi arranged as a slice of pizza. There is no plot, only pieces of unique imagery to set the mind going. The work is perfect for mutual reading, sitting on a sofa with a friend trying to solve the puzzle: is the Mona Lisa a cross-dressed self-portrait? And does this book have a message? I highly recommend Norville Parchment’s Dancing and Other Problems, whether or not you end up sharing the author’s giggles.