AIE Conversation Series: Susan Eder

Artist Susan Eder sat down with Art in Embassies staff to talk about her artwork and influences on her pieces in the Ankara exhibition 2015. Produced in conjunction with Art in Embassies’ exhibition in Ankara at the official residence of U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, John R. Bass

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0:00As soon as I could hold a crayon I knew, and fortunately my parents encouraged it so I
0:07just grew up knowing that’s what I was and would always do.
0:12The moment where I actually made the transition was, I was doing a drawing and I wanted to
0:17put something else in it, so I found and old snapshot I had taken years ago and I cut out
0:23a little half-inch square and I colored it in.
0:26I thought, well that’s kind of nice. And pretty soon there was more photo and less drawing.
0:33And then finally I said the photos are more interesting than the drawings so that’s the
0:36direction I’m going.
0:38I collaborated on these works with my husband and partner Craig Dennis. Part of the universality
0:43of how great it is to show our work in someplace like Ankara – everybody looks at the sky and
0:49sees a cloud and projects some image on it. It’s just a natural thing to do.
0:55And so, by taking that further, Untitled is a collection of the word for God in 41 languages,
1:03just laid up, stacked out against a blue sky using those cloud letters.
1:09We were interested in the fact that pretty much every culture has a religion and has
1:16the idea that of a creator or a God, a diety. And even though the way that faith is manifested,
1:25the differences in religions they all aim for the same thing.
1:28There’s also the notion of a heaven or an afterlife or another world, usually kind of
1:33directed to the sky, sometimes to the Earth but that too is a universal.
1:38So we’re interested in how abstraction can be appreciated for itself, but much of the
1:44time the human mind just can’t help attaching a familiar representation to it, so we wanted
1:52to just take that impulse and run with it.
1:55One of the works in the show is called: “Entropy in Cinnamon Swirl. Chaos Simplicity” It’s
2:01a grid of slices of cinnamon swirl bread. 36 of them in a grid, and in the lower left
2:08corrner is the one with most perfect spiral, and then as they go horizontally they become
2:15more chaotic, but the one in the upper right corrner – its the breakdown of the spiral
2:21but its sort-of reconfigured into something that… we try to find some sense in. It looks
2:27like a cave painting of a bison.
2:30Some of them look like things by Paul Klee, or William T. WIley. People see other things
2:36in them. You know, once the image that was intended breaks down, that’s when abstraction
2:44happens and that’s when people insert their interpretations.
2:48I think not all photography aims to be art, and maybe art now is just opening up more
2:55to what people shoot everyday because we’re now used to thinking of photography as art
2:59whereas photography had a hard time breaking into the art world.
3:03There’s also a responsibility now that you realize if you want to make your art relevant
3:10to more people you need to be aware of what’s going on in the world. The small number of
3:16people who saw work I did 30 years ago at that time and now it’s just astonishing. It’s
3:24amazing. and I think artists who are emerging now start off with that. That they are going
3:32to address the world, and the people in the world no matter what situation they’re in.
3:37So I think it’s a fascinating change that’s happened.