Who is Susan Carr?
Susan Carr attended Tufts with a semester at Radcliffe at The School of the Museum of Fine arts Boston and achieved her MFA in Video and photography in 2003.
She won the prestigious Fifth year “Traveling Scholars Award” in 1995 in painting at the same school and achieved her bachelors there as well.
Susan works in many mediums including sculpture, painting, the written word and photography.
She recently published a small memoir in 2019 called “Tensions” of prose, poetry, photography and paintings.
Being curious of most everything she is a lifelong learner. Susan uses archetypes, metaphors, history and psychological ideas when pursuing and focusing on her work.
These motifs act like springboards for further investigation through medium and material.
Susan stays grounded and finds joy through her relationships with her family and children.
Being a mother has been an indispensable and a vital part of her art practice. She has learned daily that life in its many spectrums is art.
For Susan art is the totality of life, and that humility and love are crucial ingredients to making work.
Art is a wonderful tool, best friend and saving grace.
As a child I was introduced to art through the local artists guild here on Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts where I live today.
My parents had just divorced and we had traveled back to live with my grandmother from Cherry point North Carolina.
My father was a navigator in the Marine Corps during Vietnam; he suffered terribly from P.T.S.D.
My sister at the time was six months old and I did my fair share of baby sitting when I wasn't drawing.
On the weekends, my mother who was a musician dropped me off at the artists guild and I went to a children's art class.
I was five when I began making art. I did a lino-cut of "A girl watching ants" when I was five or six that won an award, after that I was hooked.
My mother sang and played piano in local lounges at night so during the day she slept.
My mother was very strong although hardly present. She never told me I couldn't do something because I was a girl so art seemed like a reasonable vocation.
I never thought I couldn't be an artist I always knew I could and would be.
The artist guild was a good safe place for me and I was a faithful curious student.
Art gave me a home and some space to situate my feelings. Art also gave me direction even when the world felt hard, art was always there to sort me out.
At first when I was very young I thought I might be an illustrator but as the years progressed I knew I wanted to paint.
I have always wanted to paint big feelings and do important pieces that tell a story.
I have realized that there is a direct connection between writing and painting.
Painting is words in pictures sometimes poetic sometimes violent, delighting in color melancholy in shadow.
There is so much to be said of personal narrative and mythology I feel these things are very important to creating long lasting images and I am working hard to find mine.
I did have children very young and this gave me everything I needed to know in life. I am forever grateful to my children.
My children have been my biggest teachers of what is most important. I have learned so many lessons thanks to my beautiful children who are now grown.
I lost my son nearly five years ago now. I try to be an advocate for those who still suffer due to the disease of addiction.
I wrote my book "Tensions" for my son and my sister who also passed due to an overdose.
My book was a memoir talking about things people who live with those who suffer almost never talk about.
The love, the gallows humor, the sadness it is all there and I would like to write more sometime soon.
My son Josh was a great young man who will never be forgotten.
My "eye" pieces are for him. It is a way to communicate with my son. I started painting the "Eyes" after he died.
The eye is represented in a circle and the circle like my love for my son will never end.
Some say the circle represents totality, wholeness, eternity, timelessness and perfection. I like to think that all of those meanings can be found within the "eye".
I have other images that are metaphors like the black dot, which is the void, the great beyond time and space.
The magical Ouroboros or the infinity symbol is used to denote forever, the triangle is strength, grids can be read as space and heaven.
I like that I am building a language biased on images that mean something profoundly important to me and hopefully can mean something to the viewer as well.
With all of my work I want the viewer to find their own special meaning.
As you know I am also making portraits of silly children, zombies, ghosts, and myself.
The silly children came first they are in the same category as my first ever lino-cut "Girl watching ants" .
I like the idea of happy children perhaps because I am painting a new history for myself, a history where smiling comes easy.
To be accepted to The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston at Tufts University was such an honor and surprise.
I knew I wanted to go to that school and no other so I never tried to get into any other schools. I was eighteen when I began with one child.
I did my undergrad there, fifth year, which I won and my MFA all there because I was commuting by car two hours in the morning and two hours at night to get home.
I did fifth year because my mother wouldn't baby sit anymore so I had to leave my teaching program.
I was going to be an art therapist but life changed. I won fifth year and went onto finish my MFA in video and photography.
The things we want to do along the way! Along the way I had two more children and took years off of school only to come back more determined than ever.
I wanted to be a family documentary photographer but ended up painting again after my medium format camera broke.
I am also making wood sculpture, ceramics and fabric sculpture.
I had to go to school I loved it every bit of it and now I am a life long learner.
I am learning astrology just because I want to and find it very interesting.
I am sure I will learn another art practice someday I would like to go back to glass.
I worked in glass slumping and fusing and would like to do that again, maybe I will.
I try to keep up a good schedule for myself of painting. I am very hard on myself and I don't let myself just hang out usually.
When I am not painting I am making ceramics or constructing wood sculpture. I have lots of ideas and want to see each one through.
Someday I will visit Ireland I just really want to go there and also Wales and Norway if I had my druthers I would go back to Paris what an amazing time once in a lifetime trip.
It was a school trip and I went with my school mates.
I enjoyed nearly every museum. Even back then I was taken by the Egyptian wing and spent a lot of time at the louvre looking at Anubis and Osiris.
I was to go on to Amsterdam but someone had stolen my car so I had to get back home plus I had stayed long enough my children needed me.
I was the first person in my immediate family to go to University I was able to be an example for my children that higher education is something very precious.
I am grateful that my children chose University. I am most proud of that.
I am working toward my solo show at LABspace_art in Hillsdale New York in the fall. I love LABspace they are the best and I am so grateful to be coming back!
I have a show up now in Jacksonville Florida called "Higher Love" with Morgan Ashley that is really beautiful my sculpture is there.
I am in a group show at "The Ely Center" Ct in March and I will be in "Onward" at La Luz De Jesus Gallery in Hollywood California March 5, which is very exciting.
More about Susan Carr:
The School of the museum of Fine Arts Boston/ Tufts University/Radcliffe MFA 2003
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts Fifth year winner 1995
The School of The Museum of Fine Arts Boston/Tufts University BFA 1994
IN MY ROOM 2020 LABSPACE Art Gallery Hillsdale New York late summer early Fall
TENSIONS 2019 BOOK Signing of original photography, art and writing MOMA PS1 Sept 21
FLIPSIDE 2019 Solo Exhibition LABSPACE Hillsdale New York April 7-Memorial Day
EMBODY Ely Center of Contemporary Art New Haven Ct March -April 2021
HIGHER LOVE Floridamining Gallery Jacksonville Florida March 2021-April 2021
CRIBS LOBO Gallery New York Nov 2020
NO END IN SIGHT Vantage art projects Vancouver Canada/ Curated by Charlie Meyers NYC NOV-DEC 2020
ITS ELECTRIC Tiger Strikes Asteroid South Carolina online exhibition Sept 2020
ARTCALL Showhouse JayJay online exhibition April 2020
GIFC [Get it for Cheap] The Hole Gallery New York New York March 8, 2020
DIS/TORTION LA Bodega Gallery Brooklyn New York March 6-April 5, 2020
DISRUPTION Object Space Gallery Spokane Washington Feb 7, 2020
“Way out” exposition international group show at “La Grange gallery” France 2020
“Tensions” memoir published by rawmeatcollective.com 2019
INTERVIEWS AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
Lazy Artists Art show Podcast #3
HYPERALLERGIC. [Meg Atkinson] “artists quarantine with their art collection” Dec 19, 2021
I LIKE YOUR WORK Podcast with Erika b Hess October 2020
AHTCAST podcast with Phillip Mellen September 2020
Artspiel online art magazine “In My Room” Nov 11, 2020
Hyperallergic “Deceptively playful portraits mask painful traumas” May 13, 2019
Awards and Achievements
Two career development awards from Mass Cultural council 1999, 2001
Two grants from the Davenport company 1996, 1997
97th recipient of the “James Williams Page Fund” Fifth year award, School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Falmouth Hospital wing Falmouth Mass.
For more on the artist:
A huge thank you to the wonderful Susan for sharing with us her amazing work and her story.