As a child growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, featured artist Susan Fowler often “haunted” the Art Institute, wanting to “climb through the windows of time” into the large neoimpressionist painting, Sunday Afternoon at La Grande Jette by George Seurat. She adds, “The painting opened up my eyes to the beauty of pigment and light.”
Susan also says that she was lucky to get some young artist’s classes there as a teenager—and was hooked.
Later, she did graduate studies at UC Santa Barbara, studying with Guy Williams, Ludwig Redl and minimalist John McCraken. And there, she says that she also became interested in performance and narrative art, which involved studies at Space DBD in Santa Monica with Rachel Rosenthal.
In addition to Rosenthal, Susan reports that she has also been strongly influenced by Marcel Duchamp, Vincent Van Gogh and, of course, George Seurat.
Though she created performance pieces (Trampolin in Cologne, Germany and for Basel Art Fair in Switzerland); did set design (for Ballerina Vala Bovie); and had many exhibits (UCSB, Two Dog Museum in Santa Rosa, Ahlone Gallery in San Jose, Ucen Gallery and College of Creative Studies in Santa Barbara and in Barstow), Susan realized that she still needed to make a living.
So, she taught art in both high schools and elementary schools. And she also went back to graduate school—California State Bakersfield to earn a Master of Science in Counseling, which she says taught her the therapeutic value of art. For example, at Charter Hospital, she designed “Expressions of Self Esteem,” a program implemented with victims of depression that was also used by the National Association for People with Disabilities, Creative Art Center.
Susan sums it all up this way, “My personal journey as an artist has been influenced by all these experiences. My art is a search for expression and healing. We each have a story, a narrative which requires a personal point of view and also a spectator who is included in the process. That spectator is as intrinsic to this process as the artist. Together, they make a journey through the window of the work.”
Susan’s show at Manley Art Center is titled “Windows and Waves.”