Sue Katz has been a long-time member of New England Wax since its founding in 2006. Sue has an M.A. in sculpture from Ohio State University, then studied with Perter Voulkos at UC Berkeley and Irving Sandler at NYU. She has taught contemporary art and studio art at Jersey City State University and Greenfield Community College. She smiles broadly when she informs me that she was a potter for 22 years, a graphic designer for 26 years, and an art teacher on every level for about 10 years.
Please share more about yourself.
I was married for 42 years, now a widow. I have two great children and two great grandkids. I am one lucky woman and one fine artist. We moved from New York City to raise our kids in Colrain, MA, where I was a potter. Now I live in Amherst, MA, where I make art from paint and mixed media, including found objects, such as old rusty metal and worn wood. I have helped found and direct two galleries in Amherst and also started the Amherst Art Walk, the first in our county.
How did you start working with wax?
I took a papermaking workshop for three weeks at Haystack in Deer Isle, Maine in 1997. After I got home I tried soaking some handmade papers in wax as my teacher had suggested. I liked the result and got Joanne Mattera’s book and went to her for a critique.
What is your process for creating art?
I usually have an idea of what I want to make before I go into my studio where I look around for the pieces to assemble to start to make something – wooden panels to paint on, old “junk” from my piles of found stuff, scraps of used painted paper or parts from older work that I no longer value. I use whatever catches my mind’s eye. I work in series – continuing a group of six or ten pieces is easier than starting something new, which usually happens as an accident by uncovering something dormant in my brain or scattered on the floor of my studio or when out for a walk. I think about my art and I look around in my studio. I go to gallery and museum shows and look through art magazines. I take a lot of photographs of things I see – shapes and spaces, primarily squares and circles. My camera is my sketchbook. My work continuously changes from intention to attention as I work. Often I take a photograph of my evolving work to look at it on my computer screen in order to gain psychic distance.
What were you thinking as you created Les Fleurs du Mal?
I was in a gym class in December when I got this idea: “DDT” for Deplorable Donald Trump. I found an image of a DDT can online so I used that label to put on a spray can that I had in my studio. Then I got out my stencils for the wording to attach to this “flower” of found bed springs kicking around in my studio for years along with some wood for the “vase.” I was going to title it DDT until Beaudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du Mal” popped into my head. The work was done in two days for a local show of Nasty Women coming up in February.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t believe in love at first sight, but my husband and I decided to marry after knowing each other for three weeks – a physical attraction and similar values worked for us. Having a family with him was and is the greatest part of my life. My art is all about relationships, one square for one person, one spirit, as signified by the primary shapes of a square/cube or a circle/sphere/ spiral and in the colors I use, black for death to white for young life and many colors in between.
What is new and good?
Our Amherst gallery, Gallery A3, is having a 15-year anniversary all member show, Celebrating, this March. In May, I am having a one-person show at Gallery A3. Much of my new work has to do with family and a new color in my palette, indigo blue, for my husband, while my color is brown pink, a rusty copper color that is my all-time favorite.