from perception to realization
The visual parade of urban life is my inspiration. Crisp and vivid or fleeting and fugitive, this montage provides me with rich references. My practice is a fusion of planning, process, and discovery. I begin with a series of drawings to develop a concept; I make notes about color and composition; working with the clay material, I am alert to its expressive possibilities. The figure takes the center stage, as narrator, actor and symbol.
My approach is a combination of practiced skill and reckless disregard for convention. I sacrifice lifelike anatomy to questions of composition and gesture. I use both high and low-fire clays. I am an alchemist, always testing new formulas. I use any material - paint, metal, found objects - that serves the idea. I've told students "Use all your options," and I take my own advice.
"There is a vast landscape over these pieces that required close attention. Each piece (is) an invitation to a long conversation with the viewer. I wanted to hang out with them, pull up a chair, get to know them and hear stories about them - like I feel when I read a good book."
"The creations of award-winning California artist Susannah Israel reflect a deep understanding of our collective past."
"Susannah Israel’s “Le Sacre du Printemps,” vibrantly hot-hued and textured with saturated color spilling from the figure’s hands onto a primitive piano keyboard, bears a startling resemblance to its surroundings.
The Oakland artist’s intuitive storytelling approach, translated into three-dimensions, “is intended to celebrate and serenade the garden setting.”
Reviews and Conversations
Allegory, above, was made and installed in 1994 at CSU Bakersfield. It represents the culture & history of the region. In 2004, I received an award from the 510.0rg for my work, which challenges notions of race, gender and culture. Most importantly, I have been told hundreds of times that people see their own stories in my work. As Faith Ringgold tells us, the personal is political.