Cynda, our Summer 2023 MYEEP Intern at SFWA Gallery, has interviewed Susan R. Kirshenbaum, the emeritus Exhibitions Director and talented artist for SFWA. Cynda interviewed her at the gallery, asking about her most rewarding accomplishments, her artistic practice, how she promotes herself, her passion for art, and the purpose:
Susan’s answer to being asked what her most rewarding accomplishments is such:
“I most enjoyed researching and selecting our jurors, then meeting them in person, and seeing their curatorial selections for the shows in the gallery. And I was thrilled to be able to present new exhibition themes close to my heart, a figurative show and a photography show, among others.” She mentions that she was excited when they introduced the figurative show, which brought out a whole new community of artists who hadn’t shown here before.
Susan’s art practice began early in life, but eventually it got sidelined by a long career as a creative director. Her career as a creative director really helped her understand color and composition, something that many other artists were far ahead in. Over the last 10 years she has become more of a digital artist, combining her drawing with painting and photography to create digital collages. She states “I love drawing, especially the figure, from life, and I always have.” Her work greatly reflects her feminist perspective.
Susan is active on social media. You can find her on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and her website at cherrypits.net. She has a blog that she writes every few months about travel photography. You can find her on RedBubble where she sells her art wear. She occasionally does art talks at 2121 Art Space. Susan volunteers at places such as NCWCA, SFWA, which she says gives a physical presence.
“Yes, I always have [had a passion], but a demanding full-time creative job and/or other …I’ve done in my life was a drain.” Starting early in her life, Susan was captivated by drawing and the idea of being in her little world. Susan expresses that “Sometimes I’ve questioned my identity as an artist. Now it’s important for me not to get side-tracked… and to stick to making art, curating, and marketing my work.” Her models are her constant muses and a helpful starting point. Traveling and spending time in nature are fuel and inspiration.
When asked what the purpose of her artwork is, and what she wants people to think when they see it, Susan gives an intriguing response:
Beauty, strength, power, body love, and a connection to nature. For her, it took a long time to come up with a “label” for her artwork. She decided on abstract figurative, which she thought best encapsulated what she does as an artist. “As a feminist I believe that it is important to convey a frankness which feels intimate and natural. My models are generally female identified, portrayed as confident individuals.” She poses questions to her viewers: “Are you at home in your body? Do you want to be?” Nudity is not an issue. Body love is. During Covid, she founded The Invisibility Collective, a multi-generational, bi-coastal, interdisciplinary, social practice group of artists.