“I realized a few years ago that my palette reflects the countryside – the fields and stones – where I wandered as a child,” Webster Groves resident Suzy Farren reflects. “I grew up in a stone house that was built in 1749! Throughout my entire career, I was oblivious to the fact that memory of the land and the stones was buried deep within. It emerges through my art.”
Farren toiled all her life as a writer, ultimately retiring from the position of vice president of corporate communications at SSM Health. Since then, she’s devoted herself to her art, taking part in “more than 30 shows from Missouri and Illinois to California and Texas,” she relates. Moreover, Farren just contributed two pieces to the “Words + Text + Numbers” exhibition newly concluded at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild Clayton gallery, and she’s even now planning an autumn solo show at the Ethical Society of Saint Louis.
Her opening self-assessment seems multiply apt, as the accompanying 2015 work, Meditation on Mortality, suggests. Farren creates in fiber art – a form reportedly booming of late locally – and Meditation incorporates what she amusingly characterizes as her “intuitive” technique (“meaning that I sort of put my brain on hold as I create”).
“I found myself hand-stitching ‘found’ fabric scraps to strips of canvas that I had stained with various inks and paints,” she says of Meditation, which measures 21½ by 26 inches. “I usually write words on my pieces, but they are intentionally indecipherable to the viewer. I guess because I was a writer for so long, I just have to have those words.
“As I worked on this piece, I thought about the past, my own aging and what lies ahead – hence the title.”
In consequence, the work looks the way quotidian memory feels to anyone not blessed or cursed with hyperthymesia, a phrase made for Googling. At once blotchy and bold, delightful and disquieting, Meditation, in all its rough-hewed, sprawling glory, suggests a map larger than the terrain it represents – rather like the grand collage of neurons and glia nestled in everyone’s cranium.
To learn more about our featured artist, visit suzyfarren.com.
St. Louis-area artists who wish to be considered for future installments of this monthly department of Ladue News should email inquiries to [email protected] with “Art and Soul” in the subject line.
Bryan A. Hollerbach serves as LN’s copy editor and one of its staff writers. He loves to read, write, impersonate an amateur artist and research all things bibulous.