Susan Carr is an exceptionally talented American artist we discovered on Instagram. 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. For more on the artist read her story and explore her art practice on our feature.

Susan Carr is an exceptionally talented American artist we discovered on Instagram. 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. For more on the artist read her story and explore her art practice on our feature.

Susan Carr | Her life in Paint

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.  

contemporary art, paintings, ceramics, soft sculptures, dolls, eyes, symbolism
Susan Carr | Artist portrait

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.

artists guild, university of fine arts boston, labs-ace, new york, artist, paintings,
Susan Carr | Stand by you | Oil on wood | 10x12 | 2020

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.

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Susan Carr | The Mountain | Oil on wood | 12x10x2 | 2021

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.

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Susan Carr | Waiting to fly again oil on wood | 11x12x8 | 2021

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.

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Susan Carr | With a bow | Oil on wood | 12x13 | 2021

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.

museum of fine arts, mother, museum, wood sculptures, contemporary ceramics,
Susan Carr| A painting that grew into a sculpture | Oil on wood | 9x20x3 | 2021

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.

astrology, video, photography, silly children, zombies, ghosts, self portrait, infinity
Susan Carr | Ceramic Vase
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.

symbol, metaphors, magical ouroboros, triangle, strength, female artist, eye,
Susan Carr | Girl with tulip | Oil on canvas | 16x20 | 2021

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.

eternity, mother love, timelessness, perfection, loss, memoire, overdose, sadness,
Labspace solo "In my room" with fabric sculpture, ceramics paintings and sculpture | 2020

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".

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Susan Carr | Drawing/painting on paper enamel | "Boink" | 11x14  | 2020

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.

photography, publish, book, traveling scholar award, oil on wood, unique piece,
Susan Carr | Making friends with zombies | Oil on wood | 11x12 | 2020

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.

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Susan Carr | Judy in a crown | Oil on wood frame | 12x14 | 2021

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.

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Susan Carr | Oil on wood|  "the point" | 11x14 | 2020

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.

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Photo of show at labspace.
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.

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This doll or soft sculpture is 213 cm tall and is inspired from the 'Bread and Butter' puppet theater Susan enjoyed when she was younger.

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.

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Susan Carr | Zombie Maiden waiting for spring | Oil on wood frame | 9x12 | 2021

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.

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Susan Carr | Oil on wood frame | "The procession" | 18x24 | 2020

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:

Education:

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

2019-2021

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

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

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

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

PUBLICATIONS

“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

Collections

Falmouth Hospital wing Falmouth Mass.

For more on the artist:

Instagram: @susancarr88

A huge thank you to the wonderful Susan for sharing with us her amazing work and her story.