WHO I USED TO BE
Once upon a time & long ago, Susan Sutherland
was married to Lloyd Doubleday.
FIRST REMEMBERED ARTWORK
can remember purposefully making unique works of art since first grade. My teacher that year gave us a Christmas
art assignment. She asked us to make a holiday picture of a Christmas Tree with presents under it. I began making
a Tree and along the way decided to do something different than everyone else. I made a Christmas Crown.
The Tree was in the center with a big star on top. The presents stretched out to either side and went all the way
around my head. The teacher had me stand up in front of the class and show everyone what I had done .... BUT ... she
wouldn't let me cut it out, glue it together in the back and actually WEAR it. No ... it had to be in the same
format as all the others so it fit into her format.
See how creativity gets pushed
back into the box when some little kid decides to take liberties with the directions.
FORMAL ART LESSONS
I began taking formal watercolor lessons at the age of ten with
Oil Painter / Watercolorist, Alfred Pfister, in his Niles, MI studio behind his home on Hickory Street. I
studied with Al for about five years.
LEARN ABOUT ALFRED PFISTER
PFISTER ARTWORKS IN LEGACY SHOW 2011
FIRST OFFER TO BUY MY WORK
I went to summer arts camp at Perry-Mansfield, Steamboat
Springs, CO when I was 11-14 years old. It was my first introduction to Dance and Theater as a participant
rather than a viewer. I studied dance & acting and learned to ride a horse. I was also a regular
visitor to the art cabin where I could hide away for a few hours creating something that was fully mine, raw and
spontaneous, not in response to those other hours of routines and practice. This is where I created my first piece
of art that someone wanted to BUY!
This first piece of art began
as a piece of tree brought back from a woodland hike. It was fairly large for "kid sculpture," irregular
and highly textured in form and surface, about a foot in thickness and maybe a foot and a half long. I realize
now that the pattern of decay upon the wood was caused by insects eating away the soft parts and leaving behind raised ridges
and tunnels in stages of decay and exposure. Upon these exposed area I glued snail shells, also found on a hike, that
I had colored with chalks [pastels?]. I remember pink, orange, purple and lavender - colors I still favor today.
Since the piece was so obviously special, I decided not to sell
and to bring it home to enjoy myself. Of course it ended in the basement where the shells finally began to fall off
and eventually it was thrown away. If I knew then what I know now [wink-wink], I would have kept it or at least taken
a photo. Learn from this story, young ones.
VISIT PERRY-MANSFIELD PERFORMING ARTS SCHOOL & CAMP
LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF PERRY-MANSFIELD
WHY I STOPPED PAINTING &
I couldn't say what I wanted to say with just paint on a support
or with just an etched plate, paper and inks. I needed to move out into 3 dimensions. I chose fibers
[handweaving + related formats] and clay [hand building + wheel work]. Eventually I combined both the weaving
and the clay. Please see that journey at my FyberFyre website.
WHY I STOPPED HANDWEAVING - I have been silent too long.
In the history of handweaving it is a rare and wonderful thing to discover something no one
else seems to have noticed. Amazingly, this is what happened to me while I was doing Independent Studies with Moira
Geoffrion at Notre Dame University for my Fibers BFA at St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.
I noticed something in the draw downs I had been working with, a similarity in the underlying pattern structure
from weave to weave. I then realized that because of this similarity in structure, a loom could be threaded so as to
be able to insert a number of different weaves, anywhere one wanted, into one of many equally available backgrounds -
not as a double weave, but as one contiguous surface. I experimented with this discovery using a simple overshot pattern
that I could weave another overshot pattern into and created several wall hangings. These pieces were included
in a Body of Works for which I received the St. Luke's Medal from The Department of Art, St. Mary's College, May 1981.
They were later shown in my first one-person art show at Fernwood, Inc, March 1982.
naive and trusting, even when I might have been old enough to know better, I shared these woven artworks and an
explanation of my discovery with a past mentor/teacher I had worked with earlier in my art career. Before I knew
what had happened, SHE was planning a book on HER discovery and I was closed out of the entire process, blocked from
even being able to contribute to the woven samples which were taken from other weavers all around me. They were cautioned
not to share what they were doing, but I had my suspicions based on her reaction to my research.
the book was published, my fears were confirmed, but I never said a word. I was struck dumb and felt sick; I didn't
know what to do in that situation. It felt like my job might even be hanging in the balance if I responded. SHE
certainly had more power and prestige at the time. The people around me certainly had engineered the situation
that excluded me. I dismantled my loom, turned to clay [life masks in particular], and I've never woven anything
of significance on a handloom again since. Why?
I had gone back to college to
study something that was important to me - Fibers. I had made a huge investment in myself and my future as a Fiber Artist.
Now I was doing something new and exciting that I had worked hard to discover and explore. I was making Fiber
Art, My Fiber Art, and not a derivative of someone else's work. And I was still in the
middle of that creative process, getting ready to share my discoveries in classes that I would be teaching that same year at
my new job. As a result of that book, everything had to be put on hold for me ... and
then ended. I couldn't continue by giving someone else ALL the credit for what
I had worked so hard to find. And I wasn't going to teach classes on a technique I had, at the very least,
helped to discover while SHE got ALL the creative and intellectual credit ... after
I had shared my discoveries with her so unselfishly. So that is how it ended.
have my original drawdowns from this research project and some of the artworks including the piece I used in my "unselfish
explanation." It hangs in my present home. I will leave the reader to ponder of whom I might be speaking.
To some it will be evident. On the up, the experience did show me why I needed to be more
careful about what I shared, with whom, and in what context. This story should also serve as
a warning to other artists who make creative discoveries that they can't wait to share. Be
sure to get YOUR CREDITS in place FIRST ... do it quickly & quietly ... then share!
As you may know, I did finally get back to weaving. I make Basket Bowls of clay
and round reed now. The combination wasn't my idea. That credit goes to Shirley Eichten Albrecht
of Red Rock Baskets fame and Dennis Ott who teaches ceramics at the Sedona Arts Center, both in Sedona, AZ. Cool art
friends; wonderful, sharing teachers ... I recommend them to anyone heading West!
©Susan M. Sutherland Barnes
AND MEDIA CHOICES
During my life I have tried and experimented with many different
kinds and combinations of materials. I believe that a creative person cannot help but try many things. It is our
naturally curious nature. When we find the thing or things we need to give form to each of our unique voices,
that is where we each most often settle. In-between there can be lots of artwork from all different stages of an artist's
life and ability with various name formats attached.
Artworks bearing my name may
including, but are not limited to, paintings [watercolors, acrylic, oil], drawings [graphite & colored pencil], weavings and
fiber creations, handmade paper works, prints [serigraphy, etching, woodcuts], photography [prints & digital], sculpture,
adornments, mixed media, ceramics and ceramics + fiber works [wall, free standing & sculpture].
These works may be identified with the following signature configurations:
Susan M. Sutherland Barnes
SMSBarnes or SMSBarnes.com
Susan Sutherland Barnes
Susan M. Sutherland
Susan M. Doubleday
Susan, Susie or Suzie
The case for keeping one's maiden name attached at all times: in the world of art, too many names
is a confusing thing.