Susan Obermeyer Strauss

Recently I attended an artist residency in New York City. This particular residency is part of Transart Institute’s MFA and PHD low residency degree track.  The residency took place in Manhattan, N.Y. within the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts project space. The EFA houses EFA Studio Program, EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Program and EFA Project Space Program. Along with participating in open studio tours, several artists presented during an evening of Pecha Kuchas. (Pecha Kucha is a presentation style that urges students to think and learn, not just read slides, as it relies on visual images, which also encourages the presenter to put a conversational tone in their presentation.)

One artist’s work in particular holds a sublime quality, Cui Fei from Jinan, China. In case you’re headed to New York City, she’s currently showing in Chelsea. The residency consisted of all students giving midyear presentations of their progress in both studio and theoretical developments. Next summer in the Transart Institute’s Berlin residency, students present final work as well as attending intensive workshops. I’m currently in my second year of the MFA degree track.

In my works currently presented at The Wyly Arts Center titled Domestic Wild, I’m exploring several questions: What is wild and what is domestic? How do we make meaning out of visual information? What’s required versus what is assumed and the mind fills in missing information? These large prints explore how we manufacture memory. Each piece speaks to visual art references, which many of us have as an aesthetic subconscious. Here I’m playing with and arranging nods of respect to my artistic lineage, while speaking to the chemical nature of my materials. My use of iconic images are now dissolving and abstracting and rearranging in places absent.

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The physical process of making these prints is based in the solvent transfer process that Robert Rauschenberg employed and perfected. Here I use a twist in the print making process of multi-layered assemblages. The piece above Crocodile Eyes has over 60 assemblage components making up the image. I also draw; paint and collage information into the works until I feel it’s complete.

In Anatomy of a Blizzard shown below I’ve purposefully used reference points as if registration marks which balance the painting but do not make logical sense. This piece plays with how we perceive and make sense out of our environment and our experiences.

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Below, 30 Brushes: Instruments of Care, is an installation of an archive of grooming brushes. I have collected the used brushes. I like the idea of other people’s instruments of care ranging in time period and across disciplines. For example there is a US Calvary brush which says the soldier nurtures his animal much the same way a Cowgirl or a Dressage person does. There is a core human sameness about our ability to nurture and this crosses gender, culture and time period. I’m continuing this project, if anyone would like to donate used grooming items or old bits please contact me through my web site, or drop items at the Wyly in a bucket just inside the front door.

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Please come by the Wyly and see the work. On February 19th at 5:30pm I’ll be giving an artist talk followed by discussion. Hope to see many of you there and I hope you enjoy the show. Best Wishes, Susan

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