from the Tension/FORM exhibition at Studio Channel Islands
October 7 - November 18, 2023
Vintage luggage, sourced from flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales, forms the foundation of the “Baggage Series”. These sculptures use mixed media to explore the notion of baggage—in all its emotional and physical manifestations. The works are imbued with a sense of nostalgia and evoke the sense of looking into the souls of the past and present. I examine psychological and social issues while inviting the viewer to imagine their contents, past histories and journeys.
When I happen upon a suitable suitcase, I know it instantly—something about its character and my imagining of its history immediately resonates. I choose specific vintage items for their personalities and for the narrative potential that I can weave into my art. I am meticulous about my materials and carefully consider all aspects of the elements that comprise my artworks. Materials are chosen for their visual, historical, and conceptual significance. Nothing is left to chance.
My suitcase pieces range in size; some are shown as individual works while others are combined to become large-scale sculptures and installations. In some of my smaller pieces, I insert antique brass portholes into the sides of the suitcases with water tanks inside. The portholes function as windows into private, womb-like worlds filled with small objects and carefully lit from within. The vignettes I create in these water-filled spaces evoke a sense of discovery as if the viewer has happened upon sunken treasure in the form of specific messages about contemporary issues that should we disregard, we will lose to the depths of history. In the larger pieces, the cases are grouped, piled, stacked or even tied and anchored according to the underlying concept. Some are carefully held for safekeeping, others lost, discarded, or abandoned, while others are tied and firmly anchored, unable to complete their journeys. They transform personal narratives into something universal. The pieces become testimonials to the hardships and joys of life’s journey.
She has been exhibiting her works in local and national exhibitions since 2000 at such venues as Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, San Luis Obispo, CA; The Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, CA; Mesa College, San Diego, CA; and Pink Dog Gallery, Ashville, NC. Susan has a BFA from Long Beach State University, Long Beach, CA.