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Art & Life with Susan Hannon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Hannon.

Susan, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I gravitated to art as many children do. “You were three when you could color inside the lines- so strange!” my Mother would remark. I would always be involved in making art. At age 10, I dug out the sticky yellow clay from under the topsoil in our garden. Not only would I sculpt with it, but fire it, raku style in our burning barrel in the back yard. I focused on art, in school and out of school, but at the last minute, I became a theatre major. I attended the National Theatre School of Canada and Dawson College. I continued to work on art, using watercolors, inks, oils and more clay, even as I studied theatre. After acting in 2 seasons of a Prime-time Canadian TV series and a few plays, I moved to Los Angeles. I started working at my co owned production company shooting and editing video tape. As a camera operator, I learned how to frame a shot, so when I started working creatively with photography, I seldom needed to crop a picture. I was grateful that this work sharpened my visual skills. After that business was sold, I went back to art full time for a while. I sculpted a successful line of floral jewelry and then branched out to include floral sculpture. That work gave me my entry into L.A. galleries. I then went on to sculpt nude male figures diving and flying through the air. Then came my series “You Get Me Closer to God,” wings made from antique and vintage bibles and other books that had broken spines, missing sections, missing pages and were ready for the trash. I knew then, that I would never stop making art that moved me.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I create large wingspans from antique bibles and other texts and books. Human-sized wings. Mostly from bibles before 1865. My larger series is titled ’You Get Me Closer to God,” which is a lyric from the Nine Inch Nails song “Closer.” I discovered this idea when I wanted to pair up a nude male sculpture in the position of crucifixion. I needed a pair of wings for him– but I wanted something different, something that no one else had seen before. I thought, why not make feathers of that thin bible paper. That onion skin like paper that reflects flying, and wings, just like Magicians flying wish paper.

This first set of wings I made were from a Catholic teaching bible published in the 1930s owned by Lettie Osbourn. Lettie had underlined in pen and pencil every reference to adultery. And that’s when I understood I’d stumbled across a personal human story in the pages. These books also give up their little historic treasures in them. Pressed flowers, four-leaf clovers and long-forgotten church calendars. I find little scraps, little worn pieces of paper with a number of a Bible verse or 2 written on it and the number of times it should be said to find peace from a problem. I take the family pages of Births, Deaths, Marriages, and collage them along with the publisher and the date the book was published on the backs of the wings. As I work, I think of all the rich human historic vibration. Who cried over this book, who prayed over it, and preached with it? How many fingers have run over its lines by candlelight, gaslight or even firelight? My work makes explicit the resurrection theme inherent in all found- media sculpture, of making something new, out of something that was falling apart and about to be discarded. The destruction of a holy book is usually considered blasphemy, but I wanted to render the destruction as an act of transformation and beauty.

For anyone viewing my work, I wish for them to take in the humanity of the pieces. I wish them an appreciation of these wings of human history, these ordinary souls who came before us. And hopefully, we will see ourselves reflected in them. And maybe we will love each other just a little better.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
With most artist’s working day jobs – keeping a balanced life!

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Right now I’m exhibiting at bG Gallery’s lovely new space in Bergamot Station right next to Bergamot Café. I’ll also be in a show at the Neutra in Silver Lake on October 12 with the other Members of Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art. To support me – please, just come see my shows and ask about the work – you can email me at susan@susanhannon.com to get on my show list – I don’t send any other emails just the show announcements and I don’t share!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Erik Hyler

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