MARBLEHEAD — If ever an artist was aptly christened, it is Norman LaLiberte, whose surname can be translated as “freedom,” a principle he exercises throughout his work.
There is freedom in his vivid use of color, in his adaptation of sources from the range of art history, and in his experimentation with new media.
“Norman is his work,” said Charles Allen, who curated a new exhibit of LaLiberte’s work at the Marblehead Art Association. “He’s a very colorful, magical man.
“He’s very interested in your life, and he’s excited about life in general. It’s almost childlike, and I mean that in a positive way.”
As a former high school and middle school art teacher, who worked for 27 years in the Hamilton-Wenham public schools, Allen knows a lot about the connections between childhood and creativity.
He also taught art education at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly and thinks LaLiberte’s appeal is universal.
“All children, I would say, from very young all the way up to their 80s, will enjoy this exhibit,” Allen said.
The show, the first held by the art association that will occupy all seven of Hooper Mansion’s galleries, is as aptly named as its subject: “Exuberance 2013: The Varied Expressions of Norman LaLiberte.”
The exhibit is also a fundraiser, with a percentage of all sales going to support the Marblehead Arts Association, and to scholarships at Montserrat, on Thursday, May 2, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Allen, who met with LaLiberte over several months to discuss the work in his show, said most of it has never been seen before.
It includes painted wooden pieces based on totem poles, paintings on sheets of tarpaper, and “textiles that have been created from his work, he’ll be showing those as hangings,” Allen said.
LaLiberte, who was born in Worcester and lives in Nahant, attributes his origins as an artist to the moment he became free from the culture in which he was raised.