The pencil drawings and assemblages of Chicago artist Susan Mart reflect her love of nature. She has always enjoyed gardening. A garden is a place for growth. It is nature: calm, arranged, selected and enclosed. Her art reflects these feelings. She chooses fragments from her garden and other gardens in cities and countries she has visited. Rooted in observations of reality they evolve into snapshots of a small garden. Besides nature, Mart looks at details—architectural elements of a building, a gate or doorway, remembering bits and pieces of a place without being too literal. During her travels over the past few years, she has enjoyed documenting both the organic and the man-made with sketches and photographs. Using these as references, she draws with graphite or colored pencil on hand-tinted paper. Her drawings are cut and reassembled into 3-D boxes or adhered to blocks.
Her early training was primarily in painting, but after returning to school and graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she took several bookbinding classes, she became interested in paper constructions used in book and box making. Assembling her images into blocks and displaying them in a grid allows each square to stand on its own while also becoming a part of a larger whole. This format allows for unlimited possibilities in selecting and arranging the work. She enjoys the flexibility of adding or removing pieces to grow and change the work.
Mart has been active in the greater Chicago art community for many years. As a member of ARC Gallery, a women’s cooperative gallery in Chicago, she served on the gallery board for seven years and was president/director for two years. Her work has been in many solo and group exhibitions, receiving national recognition as a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America. Two drawings have been included in “The Best of Colored Pencil” books. Her work may be found in many private, business and municipal collections, including the State of Illinois collection.