Suzanne Gernandt Artist Statement:
When I was very young, my mother would take four or five of those wooden kid puzzles and spill them on the carpet in front of me, all jumbled together. I would patiently sort through the pieces until patterns emerged and separated into distinct scenes. Slowly, under my small busy little hands, the puzzles were solved.
This is the same strategy I use today in my mixed media textiles. I construct abstract art from a excess of materials: found fabric, papers from various sources, paint, inks, stains, stitching, and natural materials. Moving pieces around, turning them, adding color and thread: the composition begins to take form. Then there is more stitching, painting and cutting and reassembling. And so it goes until a new puzzle is solved.
In my studio, I experiment with tools, materials and ideas. It can be risky, with hours of effort sometimes ending up in the ugly bin. But I don’t look on it as a waste. It teaches me what not to do the next time, and it teaches me that staying open and vulnerable is key to creating anything of value.
My art explores the puzzle pieces that are our lives, moving around, shape shifting, turning until we’re in the place we want to be. Here it is in the words of the old Shaker song, Simple Gifts:
‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free,
‘Tis a gift to come down, where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
A transplant to Wisconsin, after 30 years in the Appalachian Mountains, I have grown to love the big open skies and fields of the prairies.
My newest work is a response to the light, the expansive horizons and the rich color subtleties in the prairies around me. Living on a prairie marsh supplies me with a complex color palette.
My textile pieces suggest this open countryside and their construction serves as my reminder to be contemplative and appreciate the simple beauty around me.