Suzan Shutan was born in New Haven Connecticut. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting/Drawing from California Institute of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Installation from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts. She has lived and worked in Germany, France and New York City, NY. Shutan has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Quinnipiac University, CT, University of Omaha, NE and currently teaches Sculpture at Housatonic Community College. She has attended artist residencies, has been awarded grants that include CEC Artslink, Art Matters, Berkshire Taconic Foundation’s A.R.T, and recently a Fellowship in Sculpture from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism funding all work created in 2012-13. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions nationally including Bank of America Headquarters in N. Carolina and internationally in Germany, France, Sweden, Poland, Argentina, Russia, Canada and Columbia. She has been reviewed by the NY Times, High Performance Magazine, and has work in private and public collections such as the Villa Taverna Foundation and UCLA.
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My work straddles the worlds of two and three dimensions. An artwork might start as a wall relief and end as a floor sculpture. Driven by materials that are manufactured and handmade, I repurpose and transform them. The work is inherently imbued with meaning beyond the planned and researched, as its materials become a contemporary artifact reflecting the decade and century while also commenting in part upon the accumulation of cultural debris. I build vibrant interactive landscapes that visualize an environment while integrating with its surrounding architecture. My process includes incorporating effects that distort dimension, alter optics and challenge our perception of how image and meaning fuse. Relief allows for the play of light and draws out shadows or radiance of a material, bridging the ethereal with the real. Color is used purposefully as emotive and associative. Much of my work offers map-like views of “systems” found in the natural world. These systems contemplate daily life as a collection of observed objects and data that reconfigure communicative behavior into meaningful patterns and structures. Ultimately my work is about joining together a variety of elements that advocate transformation.
Interview With Suzan
WHAT I LOOK FOR IN MY WORK:
To illustrate an idea using its intended form as a springboard, creating believable though not necessarily real forms. I wish to evoke the essence of an object, remaking the known into something uncommon and transformative. I think about the ability of an image to sustain itself throughout time, to excite-provoke and feel new. By creating universals, common issues or denominators, I hope to invoke communication to a broad spectrum of people who then, make the ideas their own.
Being 5 foot tall and possibly having a Napoleon complex, it is not easy to create such large works. You have to climb up and down ladders just to take a look at what you are making, but the idea of making an artwork that you can walk into in which all the variable parts add up to the whole, is thrilling. Installing an idea in a space, I try to consider the architecture as an integral part of the work. Each section or piece contributes to the whole with the work dialoguing from wall to wall and space to space, like a book with chapters where each section is a part of a larger story.
I have always worked between 2 & 3 dimensions due to on-going investigation into perception and optics. I loved the illusional play on shape and space in Buggs Bunny cartoons when Elmer Fudd would chase Buggs into a black hole and Buggs would get rid of the hole once he jumped in, by taking it with him down under. Line is the obvious hole to work with because it can be rendered flat, given shape, depth or literally extended into space.
My work emphasizes drawing as an end in itself, not as a means to an end as a sketch would be to a painting. I literally attempt to draw one into an illusion using an array of unrestricted and extraordinary visual effects and materials. My line is string, or flagging tape, or masking tape or wire with elements off the ends such as cubes or pom poms.