Feature Articles

November 2013

Tapp’s Art Center in Columbia, SC, Features Works by Susan Lenz

Tapp’s Art Center in Columbia, SC, will present I Am Not Invisible, featuring works by Susan Lenz, on view from Nov. 7 through Dec. 27, 2013. Receptions will be held on Nov. 7 and Dec. 5, from 5:30-7:30pm.

I Am Not Invisible is a defiant mantra and the exhibition title for new work by Susan Lenz. The work investigates the nature of memory, the tendency to forget over time, and the artist’s fervent hope to create art with a lasting impression.

“The last thing any of us will ever do is die”, says Lenz. “Like everyone, I have so many ideas, too many things to do and objects to make and not enough days in which to accomplish half of it. What really worries me is the possibility that none of it will matter in the years to come. I might not be remembered; my work might not be kept by future generations. With time, I might fade away, become invisible. I’m working to avoid this fate.”

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a stitched grid of anonymous vintage photographs. At fifteen feet in length and over five feet in height, it is easy for viewers to get sucked into the lives and times of the unknown families and the days they sought to remember through snapshots. Related work includes a collection of framed, antique portraits displayed as if a family’s wall of ancestors. Each image includes a collaged phrase, such as “I Was Someone’s Mother”, “Once a Pillar of the Community”, and “The Stories We Could Tell”. Other work repurposes scraps of crazy quilts, rusted nails, celluloid buttons, plastic greenery off discarded artificial cemetery flowers, and a plethora of vintage ephemera.

Lenz put herself into her time-capsule concepts by posing nude atop sprays of funeral flowers and in barren landscapes. She also used her own life-sized silhouettes as a stitched outline on sheer chiffon and suspended this floating material in front of densely collaged canvases. The resulting images make obvious the shortness of life on earth and the inevitable blur of slipping into history.

While most of Lenz’s extensive stash of materials is vintage and scavenged at estate auctions, she has also incorporated more modern items. Connected, Shared, Saved is a triptych of assorted cords, cables, Internet connectors and electrical devices. The individual words have dual meanings, half suggesting a network of human relationships and half suggesting similar computer functions. Gathering My Thoughts, a mass of unwound thread in suspended baskets, also draws on word associations. “Thread” is fundamental to fiber arts but is also a word used to describe conversations, common bonds, and Internet correspondence.

Collectively, the work uses every day, found materials and explores the way people try to remember and attempt to be remembered. The exhibit is the artist’s effort to do both while admitting the likelihood of failure. Journal entries are scattered through the exhibit and include: “These truths are always with me: I am a female lacking an academic arts education in a male dominated world bent on high-brow approaches to art-making underscored with critical words written by trained professionals. I am a postmenopausal woman with years of experience and mountains of visual expressions waiting to take form. I work and will continue to work because I have something to say in spite of the many obstacles. I work with the faint hope that ‘something’, perhaps just one little work of art, might be kept through coming generations, cherished … admired … remembered … regarded for its quality… something to mark my existence on this planet. I work because I AM NOT INVISIBLE.”

Lenz will not be attending the opening in November due to commitments of showing other art at the Washington Craft Show and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft show but looks forward to the Dec. 5 reception.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 803/609-3479 or visit (www.tappsartscenter.com).

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