SPOTLIGHT: Susan Holloway’s Visual Story Telling
By Lisa Strout, Gallery Manager
Susan Holloway’s art reflects the myriad of life experiences: personal stories, special places, significant events. She creates visual tapestries using narratives and symbols from a variety of cultures, religions, and literary traditions. Her bold and imaginative works of art capture core values and meaningful journeys. Each painting is inspired by what the world “offers and takes” from each of us.
How did you get started making art?
I am a trained graphic designer/art director and migrated to fine art around six years ago.
Describe your work in general.
I tell stories and create narratives using symbols, mythologies, and cultural icons.
I believe that everyone has a story, a personal journey that aches to be heard. And stories can be told about people, couples, families, corporations, illnesses, social issues and events.
These narratives make my art bright, intriguing, and thought provoking.
How do you choose your subject matter? How did you get interested in narrative art?
I choose subjects that emphasize cultural nuance and layered meaning.
I have produced narrative art and commissioned pieces focusing on organizational leadership, raising a family, comforting childhood fears, losing a child/parents, and suffering chronic diseases (COPD, schizophrenia).
Where did you learn the process of narrative art?
My graphic design background of listening to client objectives enables me to transform complex topics into compelling visual images. Meanwhile, my experience living in diverse foreign cultures heightens my appreciation of various art forms.
When doing a narrative piece, what kind of research do you have to do to discover the “right” symbolism?
I look for commonality across cultures and time. I explore etymologies and ask questions about “favorites” and “histories”. Often I make intense “gut-checks” and ask if my assumptions make sense. Rearranging the work and making multiple comps before producing the final product enable me to make the piece “right”.
Is all your work commissions or do you ever create a narrative that anyone would relate to?
Not all of my work is commissioned. For example, I produce works for thematic exhibitions such as my recent ensemble of pieces on global health at the National Institute Health. However, I like the process of commissioned work very much. I had a client who commented that the piece I produced for her was wonderful because what she had on display was a self-portrait without it being obviously so. This client added that the commissioned narrative art piece gave her the option of sharing her story or not!
I have also sold work in galleries that spontaneously moved people who were naturally attracted to visual narratives that spoke to their own untold stories.
What inspires you?
Unique phrasing. Music lyrics. Intense color. Plans B,C, or D. Open spaces.
What 2 artists (living or dead) inspire you? Why?
Thomas Hart Benton/Grant Wood with their works depicting a historical era and changes in society.
Lisa Houck for her use of color.
A dark purple-red.
What are you reading?
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
If you could invite any 2 people (living or dead) to coffee who would they be? Why?
My maternal grandmother who told me in 1983 that she wished she too would have kept her maiden name when she married in 1935!
Rainer Maria Rilke simply to chat and let the conversation meander.
What are you working on right now?
I just started working on a piece I have provisionally titled “Bruised Feelings”. We will see where it leads me!
What do you want people to know about you that isn’t art related?
I overthink everything! I like watching nature shows. I journal daily. I follow the moon cycles.
Please come by Tryst to see the latest exhibit, NEXXT, which includes some of Susan’s lovely work. The next reception will be on First Friday, November 4, from 6 – 8PM.