Susan Hamburger is a visual artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. The Roger Smith has the pleasure of exhibiting her recent show at the hotel, Protected//Rejected//Unexpected, on exhibition through 1.23.16.
We were thrilled to catch up with her in the final month of her show to delve a little deeper into her work and find out what makes Susan tick.
RS: What kind of artists would you describe yourself as?
SH: I was in an exhibition many years ago entitled “conceptual realism” and conceptual realist seems fairly apt, although usually I prefer to say that I make stuff.
RS: What is the significance of the animals in Protected//Rejected//Unexpected?
SH: I used the classifications as a metaphor for the rhetoric around race, gentrification, immigration and status that gets only more heated during the height of the election cycle. While I think that my point of view is fairly apparent from the title, I do think it is open-ended enough that one can make an interpretation based on one’s own ideological bent.
RS: Can you expand on this? I’d love to hear more about the classifications. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
SH: I spend a lot of time listening to the radio when I’m working, something I wrote about at length last year for an essay in Cultural Politics from Duke University Press: Moral Hazard Currently, I read as much of the New York Times as I have time for, Which is sometimes only the Op-Ed pages, but I am mostly tuned to WNYC in the morning and in the studio so that I can get a mix of local, national and world news. I miss air America and was thrilled to find Randi Rhodes had returned to the airwaves on her own Internet station, but I’m often teaching during her show, so don’t catch it as often as I’d like.
RS: Can you explain your process of making your decal work, like the one in Lily’s?
SH: The work begins with research on the subject and finding photographic references that form the basis for monochromatic paintings on paper. These are then scanned and placed on large patterns sheet in photoshop, which then gets printed on vinyl and is cut by hand.
RS: What about this process do you enjoy most?
SH: I enjoy making the original pieces and the meditative process of cutting everything out. But my favorite part is seeing the whole thing come together when its installed.
RS: What about this 18th Century English Print Room Style of presenting is appealing to you?
SH: This was a format that was used particularly by women to decorate lesser rooms in grand houses. I like to update older, decorative styles of art with contemporary imagery, and this process of using decals is a way to update both the form and the content.
RS: You must have studied decorative art of that period quite closely, what where your resources? places you visited. books you read, people you spoke to?
SH: I’ve spent a lot of time in the period rooms at the Met, taking photographs or simply looking. I also do quite a bit of image hunting online and became enamored of the Print Room format after seeing images of the Castletown House, Ireland, one of the few and best remaining examples. I’d love to see it in person.
RS: What are you working on next?
SH: I’m starting off the year with a project room in a show curated by Suzy Spence at 1 Grand Army Plaza. It’s set to open the week of the inauguration. Given that the Roger Smith show opened the night after the election, im feeling like it’s a mixed blessing to have my work so closely tied to current events.
Read more about Susan’s show at the Roger Smith Hotel here.
Susan Hamburger website