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Artist of the Month
December 2010

Artist of the Month

Susan Silver Brown

Susan Silver Brown is an Arizona artist who has actively worked as an artist for over 25 years. She is a graduate of Penland School of Art and Pilchuck Glass School and has studied with Daniel Clayman, Lucartha Kohler, Irene Frolic and Mitchell Gaudet. Her work has been represented in various galleries such as Pismo Gallery and Habitat Gallery and she is currently represented by Adamar Fine Arts in Miami, Florida.

Susan Silver Brown

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

I am a sculptor who has been living in the desert southwest for 25 years. I originally started my career at U.C.L.A. as an ancient, and then, African/Oceanic Art historian. I've always been interested in mythology, anthropology, and why art is so essential in society. In the so-called 'primitive arts', I've learned for example that in West African sculpture there is no word for art. 'Artwork' equals 'healing.' Artisans and shamans make art for the sole purpose of healing individuals through visual transcendence and non verbal communication. I then quickly metamorphosized my philosophical studies into art. At that second, although artistic seeds had been germinating since childhood, I manifested the cerebral into the physical. A spiritual artist was born. Being an artist is an honest and explored life. It frees, heals my soul, and lets me contribute back to society to do the same. This autobiographical work is born out of our mystical feelings origin.

In between being an art historian and a sculptor, I have had a 15-year career as a wearable art sculptor. I created very personal jewelry that was both philosophically poetic, as well as absurdly lyrical. These small sculptures were talismanic, sensually organic, and often with poetry written on them.
That work grew into the sometimes provocative sculpture that I've been creating for the past seven years. Attending, Pilchuck, Corning, Penland, other glass schools, and studying with master craftsman has helped me make the transition to the medium that I was born to create with.

I think of these sculptures as "Ethno-Primitive Surrealism'. In this intoxicatingly passionate journey of being an artist, besides being influenced by African and Oceanic art, the primal and travel, I've also been influenced by the surrealists. Mark Chagall and Dali have been major influences, as well as Jungian psychology, Buddhism, Francesco Clemente, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and Eckhart Tolle.

I create in an unconscious, dreamlike, state. Sometimes I feel as if in a trance, and that god energy moves through me, and the work is born out of the void; no drawings- just going with it! I try to combine the known and the unknown, the tangible and the intangible. In this confession of feelings and narrative I'm pushing for self-actualization through visual transcendence; for myself as well as my viewers. I'm confronting our struggle with existence, temporality, impermanence, love, and loss. I do this by interconnecting animal and man, nature and god energy. The Hindus have a saying I believe in, "The god within, moves in animals, sleeps in mountains, breathes in the plants, and thinks in man." This is why I often combine not just the primal elements of glass and bronze, but incorporate vertebrae, plant, and animal material. When I'm on "pod patrol" in Africa or India, I'm always looking for some wonderful plant, Zebra, or Hippo bone to bring back to cast into glass or bronze. I'm very much aware that we all have an inner longing to connect back to the source. That's why I'm driven to make visionary work. I've never felt this more strongly than when I'm traveling in pristine environments like Antarctica or the North Pole. The primal ice formations and their stillness have been very inspirational in all my work.

Travel has always been a passion, having been to Africa and India half a dozen times, as well as Southeast Asia, Indo China, South America, and Europe. I love combining all societies together on our planet.

While on a pre-historic cave art expedition to Lascaux, France amidst cave paintings from 25,000 years ago; I became swallowed up by time and trance and gave birth to a new body of sculptural, spiritual work in glass.

The cave, as the symbolic home of the goddess becomes host to all that is primordial, mystical and intuitive. Feeling united with the mysteries of life in a subconscious and abstract manner, I have come to express myself in its archetypal form.

Glass is the perfect medium for this type of philosophical thought. With its fourth dimension of being able to see through the translucency, and the breath of bubbles from within it feels alive! It becomes spiritually and physically charged with life. 

About Susan Silver Brown

Susan Silver Brown’s cast lead crystal glass sculpture, which debuted at this past SOFA Chicago, drew heavily on African and Oceanic art and Buddhist thought. As the artist states," In one of sculptures, Kali's Crowned Prana, for example, the Hindu goddess of destruction and then creation or recreation gives liberation by dissolving the illusion of the ego.She carries within her enlightenment, transformation and renewal. Her mouth is in the position of prana, releasing the breadth of surrender. Her exposed spinal column shows the vulnerability in the journey of life. The crown is the Jungian collective unconscious the many souls of the many rebirths of man's many journeys".

The artists’ sculptures are made in the lost wax process, which is very similar to the well known bronze process. Initially she sculpts a work out of clay and then a mold is made from that. Liquid wax is then poured into the mold and after it has hardened it is cleaned up or dressed. At that point a temporary mold is made that will accept the refractory material. The refractory mold, which can go up to 1520' is then rigged on an A-Frame hoist system and put into a steam chamber. The chamber is so hot that the wax evacuates out of the mold.

This mold which can frequently weigh over 500 lbs. is either A-Framed or fork lifted into the kiln. The artists’ large car kiln has a railroad track entry in which the mold is then wheeled into the kiln. The mold is empty and the vessel holding the properly weighed-out lead crystal glass is then placed on top of it. Over a period of between 4-8 weeks the glass fills the mold and very slowly cools down. The amount of time needed is calculated through a specific mathematical/scientific system and programmed into a computer.

After that period the mold is then pulled out of the kiln and the mold material is then very carefully taken off with dental tools over the course of a day. This technique is referred to as divesting. The glass is then ground with diamond tools, sandblasted for a complete evenness and then dunked into a polishing, hydrofluoric acid bath.

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Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Adamar Fine Arts (Miami for providing the materials for the Artist of the Month.

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The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to further the development and appreciation of art made from glass.

The Alliance informs collectors, critics and curators by encouraging and supporting museum exhibitions, university glass departments and specialized teaching programs, regional collector groups, visits to private collections, and public seminars.