by Susan Coleman
October 28 – December 13, 2013
Eastern Missouri native Susan Coleman received her BFA in drawing from Webster College, St Louis, Missouri in 1979. She went on to receive her MA, 1985, in drawing and MFA, 1987, in painting along with a minor in printmaking from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Coleman’s work focuses on landscape themes encountered in her local environment. She has shown her work in various venues throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States including The Gilded Pear Gallery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the 1st Brick Gallery, Mount Vernon, Iowa.
In addition to creating art, Coleman has taught at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa and Kirkwood Community College, Iowa City, Iowa Campus and as a visiting assistant professor at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. She has been serving as the Gallery Coordinator and Lecturer at Cornell College’s Department of Art since February of 2000.
“I see my work as a meditation, drawing on memories, questions and attempts to settle my ever-shifting perceptions. My goal is to be in the studio experience and go beyond the merely scenic aspect of landscape, toward a larger goal of nuanced visual metaphor.
My process is of the intuitive variety, meaningful to me, and rather ordinary. I spend a fair amount of time walking in the landscape, sometimes with my dog, and often with a camera. Taking lots of pictures, especially when the weather of the sight is unsuitable for working outside. I use the camera as a note-taking device to engage my visual memory. Later I’ll sit down with pastels, or paint and brushes to work the page, building the image through a gathering of marks, lines, tones and colors. I spend a lot of time layering the image, gradually building a rather ambiguous two-dimensional structure, reimaging, and often simply starting at the image without any recognizable result. Through the layering of multiple efforts an image forms. It can appear naturalistic, recognizable and even pleasant, but often carrying another aspect, which is darker and less certain.
Through drawing and painting within the open-ended themes of landscape I cultivate awareness of my own inner wildness, as it echoes the wider world. The fragile and fleeting, as well as enduring qualities I find in nature are likewise within me. Not separate but interconnected, like past and present, figure and ground.
Drawing allows for multi-layered interpretations of the visual, and much re-visioning. The process engages all my sense and I feel more often than not, that I was made for this practice. When I’m working I linger with an awareness of nature as living presence, embodying source, refuge and great unknown. The larger theme of landscape provides many points of departure return.”