Name: Susie Matthews
Studio location: Shady Lea Mill, North Kingstown
Current/upcoming exhibits: “Guilty by Association,” Hera Gallery, through Dec. 17.
What is your background? I grew up in Connecticut and New York City. I came to Rhode Island to go to college and more or less never left. In addition to being an artist, I have worked on boats and taught high school art.
Why create art? I ask myself that question often. There are so many reasons that art is important. But I think the ultimate reason I make art is pretty selfish. It makes me happy.
What is your preferred medium? Why? I am working with ceramic and textile mediums. I enjoy combining disparate mediums and having them play off of one another. I like ceramic and textile mediums because of their many varied possibilities, their association with the everyday, domestic realm and their respective hard and soft qualities.
How would you describe your work? I make mixed media sculptural objects that usually refer to the human body in some way. Things that I hope you want to touch, or could wear.
What was the inspiration for a recent body of work? Everyday life is a constant inspiration. I am always interested in tools, objects with a specific intention. I did a recent series with spliced ropes that was partially inspired by my time working on traditional sailboats.
Whose work do you admire? Why? Eva Hesse, Richard Deacon, Lygia Clark. Their work touches a chord in me. I get a thrill beyond appreciation.
If you could experiment in another medium, what would it be? Video.
What is your dream project? I would love to make something that required lots of minions taking my direction and making many wearable or touchable sculptures. Then there would be a performance/video of people interacting with each other and the objects. Or maybe it would be even better if strangers could wear and touch the things.
What do you do when you’re not making art? Grocery shop, make dinner, drive my kids around, go outside, travel, watch TV, and think about making art.
What are you most proud of? Why? My kids, though they aren’t a solely personal accomplishment. They are doing most of the accomplishing.
Do you have a favorite local art spot? Hera Gallery and the Jamestown Arts Center.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? There is much practical advice to give, but one of the lessons I’m still learning is: Don’t let your thinking get in the way of your making. Often you need to make first, then learn and think after.