twitters and spangos, oil on linen, 65 x 65" 1979

Susan Sensemann

Susan Sensemann is an artist, writer, educator, curator and arts administrator who recently moved from Chicago to Easthampton, Massachusetts. She is professor emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Art and Design, where she taught painting, drawing, color theory, contemporary art theory and writing for artists. Seminars included “Gothicism” and “Going for Baroque” with a particular focus on women in art as maker, object and subject.

She has lectured on feminist art and exhibited nationally in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Indianapolis Art Center; Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago and Los Angeles; the Ukrainian Museum and Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; A.I.R., New York; Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta; Locus Gallery, St. Louis; and the Art Institute of Boston.

Her paintings and photographs have been viewed internationally at Titanik Gallery, Turku, Finland; Gallery Woong, Seoul, S. Korea; The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik, Iceland; Jilin Province, Changchun, PR China; the Kunstmuseum, Torshazn, Faroe Islands; Saatchi, Florence, Italy; and ARCO 99, Madrid, Spain among others. Her work is held in many private, university, and corporate collections throughout the country.

As a painter, Sensemann has worked in oil, watercolor, and egg tempera in addition to all drawing mediums. For many years her work, shown among "structural abstractionists" in Chicago, was focused on the architectonic and psychological implications depicted in works by Italian pre-Renaissance artists such as Duccio, Fra Angelico, and Piero della Francesca.

In 1997, she began an extensive body of photographic works that represent an investigation of a gothic narrative structure within a tradition of feminist self-portraiture. Installations combine erasure poetry that she has devised with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories and her photomontages.

Awards include travel grants to South Korea, Northern Ireland, the Czech Republic, Finland, an Ossabaw Island Arts Residency and an Illinois Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowship.

Curatorial endeavors have extended her research. Shows titled “Skew: the Unruly Grid,” “Heat,” “Libidinal,” “Touch,” “Brain/Body,” “Once Upon a Time and Now,” “More is More,” “Physiotasmagorical,” and “Obsessions” have featured works by well-established and emerging artists from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. She has written catalogue essays to accompany the exhibitions.

In addition to poetry, she writes fiction. Two short stories have appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review. “Encountering History” was nominated for a PEN Award for New Writers. Other journal publications include Whitewalls (collage/text), Design Issues (book review), Meat for Tea (poetry and visual art) and Silkworm (poetry).

Her installations, collaborative projects and performances incorporate photography, painting, drawing and poetry. Large-scale mandalas of sand and petals are works of ephemerality. Zen-inspired hardscape gardens are made of stone as markers of geologic time and are populated by pollinators, bees and butterflies. Many titles of her works are bits and pieces of Leonard Cohen's poetry - one of several mentors along the path.