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    © 2019 by Susan Blake 

    On Painting

    I am interested in how we decode the patterns that make up the world around us.  My paintings are concerned with pattern and perception. Although abstract, they play with elements of illusion and optical effects.  My inspiration draws on my study of geology, my work as a graphic designer and my love of domestic sources of decoration such as textiles and wallpaper.

     

    My approach is intuitive and personal—versus strictly systematic.  In my paintings I often layer, interweave or intentionally obfuscate patterns.  I take delight in the small ways that patterns evolve, deviate and become corrupted. Despite that I begin my artistic process by roughly ’sketching’ out my compositions on a computer, my paintings are executed by hand in a slow and exacting manner that typically involves considerable of reworking.

     

    For me, pattern painting offers an aesthetic strategy for experiencing both a sense of escape and  control—escape into the detailed and sublime world of pattern plus the structured execution of the rhythmic repetition of patterned forms. 

     

    On Photography

    In my photography and collage practice, I am interested in the interplay between nature and artifice.  I question how man has shaped nature and hint at the contrivances we employ in experiencing our natural environments.  

     

    I create images of flowing draped fabric in landscape settings.  I make straight and digitally collaged photographs as well as traditional collages. My inspiration comes from exploring green spaces and my fascination with the drapery and draped clothing in art and fashion.  I am especially influenced by the swirling draperies of Baroque painting because they are so irrational, non-utilitarian and contrived. 

     

    In my photographic process, I deliberately  choose natural environments that might be overlooked while avoiding those that are too iconic. I also carefully avoid or eliminate evidence of human occupation (such as trash) as well as arrange my fabric pieces (yardage, curtains, Goodwill cast offs and the like) so as to obscure their utilitarian function.  Despite taking these textiles out of their familiar context, they maintain their emotional power of association. However, their meaning becomes open to interpretation (for example, a tablecloth draped amongst twigs can suggest a bride, a burka or invoke the KKK). My intention is to makes their presence in nature feel unsettling. 

     

    As with Baroque painting, I intend for my draperies to seduce the viewer with the abstract appeal of their texture, folds and pattern as well as enhance their surroundings.  In my photographic images, the landscape becomes a foil for the drapery and the textile presence draws attention to its landscape environment.  However, in replacing a human context with a totally natural one, my message is that in nature beauty often belies deceit.  My images are also a reminder that as artists  photographers and compulsive media snappers we are swayed to idealize nature and mitigate human intrusion.

    On Collage

    My collages are, literally, a deconstruction of their source materials:  Fashion and art history books, also bible and porn magazines.  I am interested in clothing and the draped figure throughout the history of art and culture. I am especially drawn to Baroque religious art in which irrational and non-utilitarian draped garments serve less as clothing and more as seductive artifice.  

     

    In my current series, The Willing Suspension of Disbelief, I create shrouded figures from collaged images of draped cloth and set them against cloudy backdrops. These backgrounds consist of my own cloud photographs which I print on Hahnemuhle rag paper. My figures are often headless or, like the depiction of so many early Christian martyrs, in the process of losing their heads.

     

    My work is a response to and inspired by current fashion in which the head and body is obliterated by floods of cloth.  Emotionally, my collages are about the pleasure and darkness of the sublime and the ecstasy of faith. They are about the bliss of denial in the present-day geopolitical climate that renounces science, facts and truths, plus the resulting desire to sacrifice for our ideology, even to our collective detriment.