Story by Peter Jabs, Photos by Uriel Lubek
Norm Sponchia’s journey began on a farm in the shadow of the Nor’Westers, right next to Fort William First Nation, whose children he played with. His father, a semi-professional opera singer f
rom Venice, together with his wife, raised a family of ten of which Sponchia was the youngest. His siblings passed down to him their knowledge and tastes in art and music.
The influence of two years spent studying sculpture at Capilano College in B.C. is evident in the strong simple lines in his work. He gained his artistic vision in an experience he had in the bush as a young man, when he saw nature broken down into fractal fragments: patterns that repeat and reflect through scale and dimension. Three crow feathers and a deeper understanding of the natural world were given to him. Knowledge and appreciation of power spots and the spiritual value of the found objects that he colours and delineates to reveal their subtle life forces were acquired. They bring you in; take you further. This is the artist’s quest: each work leads on to the next.
The present stage of his journey sees Sponchia actively involved in his community. He is an original board member of North of Superior Film Association , a former leader of the Bay and Algoma Business Association, vice chair of the Crime Prevention Council—the list goes on. The tragic death of a nephew from a drug overdose moved Sponchia to join the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy steering committee.
A selection of Sponchia’s artworks are currently on display at Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship, where he will also perform a concert on April 24. His repertoire includes songs of his own and a few of his brother Don’s, who many consider to be one of the finest songwriters to come from here. Sponchia sums it up by saying, in true folk music tradition, “My lyrics do a lot of exploring of the heart.” Warming up the audience will be his niece, Jesa Lyne, and a few surprise guests will join him up front. See you there.