My art story, is my life story

I am an Oregon artist. I moved from the Midwest in the early 70’s, migrating from a commune. I lived and traveled in a bus from Indiana up through Canada, down the eastern US seaboard, across the Midwest states, over the Rocky Mts. up through California into Oregon. The cross continental move influenced many years of my life. With the move I began following my artistic and political impulses. The artistic and political impulses continue to guide my life.

I have been making and moving in art since I was a toddler. I danced, I made photographs, and I watched movies. I was captivated by still black and white images. As a child, I used dance and visual language as a way to understand the world.

My first memories of creating are of a soap sculpture I shaped in grade school. I recall vividly the feel of the ivory soap as I sculpted the form. I remember the thrill of making something from an every day household object.

My childhood was full of dance lessons. I learned the pleasure of moving through time and space to music. From early childhood I was in love with visual experience, movies and magazines. I was drawn to art expression through dance and visual images. In high school and college I continued dancing, with lessons and performing.

After my move to Oregon, I followed my early love of visual imagery and taught myself film making and photography. I was one of ten in a media cooperative/collective producing films, still exhibits and media festivals.

In early adult life I created a photography business, took classes and made photographs. I taught community education classes in analog photography. I exhibited and ran my photography business.

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.

I was impacted dramatically for a decade in mid-life by a health threat. I am a breast cancer survivor. After my health crisis years, my work life changed. I moved from photographer to gallery designer. I survived cancer and started a second career at 55, working in the art world as a curator; exhibit designer, teacher, and gallery director. I created a business, worked in galleries, 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.

Throughout my adult life, I created predominantly visual, 2-D art. My consciousness changed in 2016. Family members died. One of these deaths was shockingly unexpected. I felt deep emotions about my art. As I contemplated my life as an aging female lesbian artist, I knew my art must take a central place. In 2017, I decided it was time to share, exhibit and promote the depth of my creativity. Because art is central to my life and the primary way I give to the world, I knew I must begin this before the aging process took away my options.

I considered 40 years of creations. Given the breadth of my work, I divided a portion of the body of my art into five series – 1. Infrared, 2. Dragonfly/Cactus, 3. Mythic Animal, 4. Digital Art, Self Portraits, and 5. Mixed Media Paintings. Initially, I decided to show work from the five series. In 2018 I decided to concentrate on my most prolific and current series  – “Portrait of a Woman.” This series has been a monumental change in my creating. It is digital and profoundly expansive

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 experiences can be shared even when words are not enough to express ourselves. I create from a place that embraces our humanness.

Susan Detroy