A Conversation with Susan Dory
Susan Dory's latest exhibition Exotic Mass opens Thursday November 7th, 2019, at Winston Wächter Fine Art Seattle
Can you speak to your journey as an artist?
I was a curious young person, always searching for a medium so to say. My uncle was a wildlife artist, an amazing watercolorist, he was the first professional artist I knew. An “eccentric” neighbor in the small town I grew up in had purchased what must have been the entire show from a John Chamberlain exhibition and had probably 6 or 8 large scale sculptures in his extensive grounds/garden. I would sneak in and ride my bike throughout the grounds in total wonderment that something like those sculptures existed, that a person could and did make something like that… it stayed with me and might be one of the first catalysts responsible for putting me on the artistic path I am on today. Seeing those sculptures was hugely influential and probably a starting point in my artistic journey to try to describe, visually, that which is not readily seen. Thank you John Chamberlain!
Was art something you always knew you would pursue?
In one form or another, I was /am rather unorthodox in my thinking and in the way I operate in the world…it was inevitable.
Color is such an important part of your work, where do you look for inspiration?
I am always noticing color, I immerse myself in it. Color is a form of visual poetry that can activate emotion and psychologically influence. I am sensitive to this. So I see inspiration in the most banal of spaces and unexpected places because of color.
How do you begin each painting?
I begin by creating a set of variables that I know I can control including palette and scale; then I reference some notes or books or pictures I’ve collected, look at some preparatory drawings I may have made, think I have a plan, begin the painting and then all hell breaks loose.
Do you have a plan at the start of each piece or does it unfold as you work?Mostly there is a complete unfolding.
What is your studio practice like? Do you have a set schedule? Do you work on multiple paintings at once?
I work every day. I have a few paintings going at once always; they have a conversation among themselves.
Do you see your work as purely abstract or do they have a narrative?
I see it as poetry more than prose. There are stories within the paintings, just less literal, more subtle, and it takes the time to look and see how that may be revealed.
What inspired the forms and shapes in your work?
Living…so many things. Ideas come from travels, books and films, paintings and sculpture, visual information from the internet, reading about science as a total layperson, geology of the Northwest and world, India, the way fashion uses the body as site for sculpture eg. Rei Kawakubo and yoga. All these experiences accumulate, are synthesized and become paintings. It’s cathartic.
What other artists inspire you and/or your work?
Influences include: Chantal Akerman, The women of the Bauhaus, Agnes Martin, Brigit Riley, Lee Bontecou, Eva Hesse, Ruth Asawa, Gerhard Richter, Tilda Swinton, Sister Corita Kent, Morris Louis, John Chamberlain, Julia Childs, BKS Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, Thomas Demand, Elliott Smith, Verner Panton, Ali McGraw, Delphine Seyrig, Barbara Loden, Agnes Varga, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Rumi, Cold Mountain.