Cut & Color is a series of mixed media collages and artists books based on the persona of Jane Russell, one of the first “bad girl” movie stars whose sensual omnipotent persona was a harbinger of today’s cult of celebrity. Jane’s image is appropriated from a vintage coloring/paper doll book made for little girls in combination with icons from current fashion, film, tattoo and skin magazines. An early Barbie, she works, plays, travels, sails, dresses well and socializes—is always alluring and always in total control. But, while Jane’s gaze conveys confidence and an assertive slightly illicit engagement with the world, in Susan’s work she is simultaneously struggling and unraveling, losing body parts, morphing and fragmenting or disappearing entirely into herself. It is these very human states of uncertainty, fear, anxiety and obsessive thinking that interests Susan in exploring the disparate clash of public message and personal reality. Her working process of cutting, tearing, layering, sanding and layering again with drawing and color parallels her fascination with simultaneous levels of meaning as she explores her own emotional identity and reflects upon the many contradictions of being female. This additive process with its cumulative layering of drawing, images and color creates a dense web of vision that incorporates intent, accident and improvisation. Her unique artists books are created by altering the structures of cardboard children’s books with collage and embellished glitzy spines, a reference to the encrusted jewels that adorned medieval manuscripts. These pieces become “semi-precious” containers for the reader to reflect not only on Jane’s individual body parts, but on directives that might help in our voyage through life.
This is the artist’s second solo exhibition at Figureworks Gallery. Her work has been seen in one person shows at the Brooklyn Public Library/Grand Army Plaza and the galleries of John Jay College, Long Island University and St. John’s University. She will be having a solo exhibition of artists books in 2011 at the Garrison Art Center. Ms. Newmark has been included in group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Parrish Museum, Islip Museum, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Brooklyn College, Rotunda Gallery and The Center for Book Arts. She has had residencies at the Lower East Side Printshop and the Women’s Studio Workshop and is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Bio Medical Library/University of Southern California and Lower East Side Printshop. She was guest curator for Rare Editions:The Book As Art at Lehman Art Gallery and coordinates Dialogues for the Visual Arts, a conversation series with artists and arts professionals at Tribeca Performing Arts Center. She is a board member of The Center for Book Arts and on the advisory committee of Kentler International Drawing Space. Ms. Newmark was the Deputy Director for the Visual Arts and Arts-in-Education at Henry Street Settlement Abrons Arts Center.