Why I Make Art:

Susie Monday


What grabs me are conversations between color and texture, and the drama of pattern in everything I see around me: the wind in the cedar trees below my windows, the Guatemalan huipiles and Mexican serapes in my studio drawers, the angels who come to me as I work. I make paintings from textiles and surface-rich original art cloth, stacking up tall stashes of the latter in order to make the former.

My textile paintings tell the spiritual and metaphysical stories that unfold in my life and in the lives I observe of women around me. My goddesses, saints and angels are less about religion than they are about everyday occurrences: our hopes, dreams, frustrations, foundations and the resources we call upon in the secret spaces of the heart.The landscapes I paint with fabric are inner and outer, celebrating the history of thorns, the symbols of snakes, the fossils that are all around me in this rocky landscape.

I have come to this work after decades of art work and other work. Like most women, I didn't choose a linear path though life or career. As a young art student, I sewed paper bags into installations. As an arts educator, I made banners, flags and costumes with children as my audience, collaborators and inspiration. As a newspaper journalist I practiced the art of storytelling and listening, in words rather than images. As an exhibit designer, I filled space with layers of meaning and experience. Throughout these incarnations, I've had to be a maker-- putting my hands on "stuff" and turning it into something new. The work I do now puts all those years to good use.

At this point in my artist's life, I want what I create to have consistency of style, to share a personal vision, and to find a home on someone else's wall. I like working within the world of fiber arts because that world, more than any other, allows me the use of many acquired skills: computer design, painting, printmaking, embroidering, building, layering, embellishment and collage. Techniques I incorporate include hand-dyeing, stenciling, stamping, screenprinting, fusing, machine and hand embroidery and quilting. Rather than a purist's approach, I cut up and use anything that comes to eye -- recycled skirts from the thrift store share space with Indian silks, dyeprinted damask tablecloths, pieces of Oaxacan hiupils, baby clothes and designer scarves. Nothing is sacred and everything is.

Working in fabric and working with these sacred images of women, words and pattern binds me to generations of other women, literally and figuratively. These are the connections I honor and celebrate in both content and form.