carrying / caring: plastic diptych (left), monotype collage, 30" x 22", 2023.
carrying / caring: paper (diptych), monotype, 26 1/2" x 38", 2022.
box cells boxed, stitched collagraph, various sizes approx. 15 1/2" x 34" x 12", 2020.
carrying / caring: paper, monotype, 22" x 30", 2022.
circular economy, monotype and chine chollé, 18" x 24", 2022
carrying / caring: plastic diptych (right), monotype collage, 30"x22", 2023.
carrying / caring: plastic packaging diptych (left), monotype, 30"x22", 2022.
carrying / caring: woven diptych, monotype, 30" x 15", 2023.
carrying / caring: plastic, monotype, 17" x 21", 2023
carrying / caring: woven, monotype, 17" x 21", 2023
For Susan Wolf there has always been a shifting dance negotiating roles of caregiver, educator and artist. These lifelong roles are found mirrored in her creative practice. Her work is an ongoing act of healing, translation and exploration.
Across a range of media, she is arranging and re-contextualizing materials at hand, creating monotypes, making fragile poetic assemblages, or taking apart and repurposing fiber to paint, dye and stitch. Gestures of centering include a regular practice at the pool swimming laps for an hour several times a week, tending to the garden planting or tending to what is growing and regular, meditative, abstract drawings and paintings in her sketchbook.
When creative practice serves as a translation, time is slowed and ideas are stretched. Self portraits negotiate identity and place, playing with costume and terrain over time. Iconic packaging becomes a surface language for a visual text. Time is embodied while thinking about the distance from the right collar bone to left hip knots and weaves a vessel, an object, and a story.
Monotypes from a day's work reveal the hidden language and conspicuous impact held by the materials we use to do the job of helping us carry. They are a part of a current body of work that investigates the entanglements of carrying/caring. The work is informed by an Ursula Le Guinn essay, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction which tells the story of human origin by redefining technology as a cultural carrier bag rather than a weapon of oppression. As a reader, in order to process this cultural reframing and pivot of values I am compelled to create a sequence of objects: monotypes exploring the materiality of the things being used to carry, hand crafted fiber handheld wallets enclosing reflective conversational prompts about care and carrying, woven assemblages measuring distances and memories held by our bodies, the stories held by the artifacts and their cultural reframing.
For this series of monoprints the morning begins with the gathering and curation of artifacts. Items are from one of three categories: paper, plastic or woven. The complexities of the objects, their use in the act of carrying and and their reuse or their impact as single use items informs the surface translation once inked and transferred to the page.
Susan grew up alongside mental illness. Her role was to witness and translate the mood and to watch for triggers and shifts into and out of well being. This same finely tuned witnessing of personal and social dynamics informs her art practice. Ongoing projects are anchored by questions and followed by research. Her observational lens, as witness, holds care with the insight of tangential thinking. The resulting translation informs the artifacts she makes and anchors her work including her current ongoing project inquiry about carrying/caring.
Currently as an artist-in-residence at Kala Art Institute, (Berkeley CA) her focus has shifted to approach community engaged work by beginning with her own personal inquiries and creating a range of artifacts later supported by and held by conversational prompts for gatherings and community celebrations of understanding.