My Art Story, is my Life Story


I am an Oregon artist. I connected with the arts early in life through dance. Throughout childhood and as a young adult I learned multiple dance forms and performed. In dance I learned early in life the pleasure of moving through time and space with music. Additionally, I loved movies and immersed myself at the local theatre often for an entire day. I was captivated by magazine, black and white images. From early childhood I was in love with my visual experience, movies, magazines and television. I found comfort using dance and visual images as a language to understand the world.

My first memory of creating with my hands is shaping a soap sculpture in grade school. I recall the feel of the ivory soap as I sculpted the form. I liked the thrill of making something tactual from an everyday household object.

In the 70’s, I lived and traveled in a van making a cross continental journey through the US and Canada. I migrated from an Indiana, rural commune to Oregon following my artistic and political impulses. My desire to create art and live an aware life continue to guide me. I followed my early love of visual imagery, teaching myself super eight filmmaking and photography. I was one in a media cooperative, collectively producing films, exhibits and media festivals.

In the 80’s and 90’s, I formed my photography business, took classes, and made photographs. I taught analog photography to community college students. I exhibited and ran my portrait and documentary photography business.

And life continued until mid-life, when for a decade, I was impacted by a health threat. I am a breast cancer survivor. During this time I created a spiritually based Folkloric ink series. After my health crisis years, I transitioned from photographer to gallery designer. I started a new career at 55, working as curator, exhibit designer, teacher, and gallery director and I worked curating, designing, and installing art in homes and in offices. I lived in an art-centered world, I produced art as a secondary interest, and I danced and lived a life.

In 2016 my world was influenced by multiple family members dying. One of these deaths was shockingly unexpected. In response my feeling about my art deepened. As I contemplated my life as an aging female lesbian artist, I knew my art should take a primary place. I decided it was time to share, exhibit and promote the depth of my creativity. Because art is central to my life and the fundamental way I give to the world, I knew I must begin before the aging process took away my options.

I make art about how I see the world and how I live. I believe my art is conduit for experiences and ideas that bind us together.


With 40 years of creative work in six series I decided it was time to move forward. I had created art, using Infrared photography, printmaking, ink pens, mixed media, and had begun digital art making. Initially I showed work from my earlier series. In 2018 I knew it was time to concentrate a series that is now my most prolific titled “Portrait of a Woman.” With themes of aging, spirituality and human connection are at the center of the work, the pieces are produced digitally, and the creating is profoundly expansive. The project has evolved to embody deep meaning for me, making a monumental change in my art career. I am committed to the project as it grows and transforms.

As the pandemic has made its way into our lives, it has entwined into my art. In 2020 I learned to make mobile videos, using iPhone and iPad. In 2021, I became a digital artist. I make videos with my mobile devices, posting my work online and showing in virtual exhibits. In 2022 I have expanded my art to include NFTs and I work as a volunteer for the Whiteaker Community Art Team. If you follow me on social media you can see my contributions. My Instagram account is here on my website. 

And as always, I make art about how I see the world and how I live. I believe my art is a conduit for experiences and ideas that bind us together. I am interested in how art communicates who we are and how our experience can be shared even when words are not enough to express ourselves. I create from a place that embraces our humanness.

Susan Detroy