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Meet Suzanne Pretty

Today we’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Pretty.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
As a child I was drawn to painting, drawing and sewing. In junior high and high school I had wonderful art teachers that inspired and steered me in the right direction including morning Saturday classes at Mass Art opening a new world for me. I was very excited when I was accepted to my first choice Massachusetts College of Art and Design. For the first time I was surrounded by a wonderful creative environment and creative people. I loved my four years there and moved into Boston to be closer to school and friends.

After graduating from Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a BA in painting in 1969, my work evolved from thick paint and texture into quilted, stuffed and painted pieces and then into tapestry. When I first moved to New Hampshire I did production weaving for a number of years selling through the League of NH Craftsmen but I set this aside as my focus shifted to tapestry when I expanded into my current studio space. Actually my whole house is my studio with beads and embroidery the in the living room, paintings in the dining room, etc.

My grandmother was a lady’s tailor in London. The seeds of her love of fiber were planted early with a gift of a toy sewing machine and fabrics of assorted patterns and textures. I have many of her sewing things still in a cabinet in my studio.

Originally from Malden, Massachusetts I current reside in Farmington, New Hampshire with my husband and where my studio is located. For twenty five years we owned Emporium Framing & Gallery in South Berwick, ME. Owning a frame shop was a plus for an artist with access to framing and walls for my work. I also managed the gallery piece of the business.

I have exhibited extensively, received Artist Fellow awarded by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts two times and was commissioned by the New Hampshire Council on the Arts to create an award for the Governor’s Award. I have been included in multiple books including GODS IN GRANITE: The Art of the White Mountains of New Hampshire by Robert L. McGrath and have received numerous awards including the First Prize in ATA Biennial 8 a traveling exhibit which opened in Lincoln, Nebraska and closed at The American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA sponsored by the American Tapestry Alliance.

Please tell us about your art.
I am a tapestry weaver and multimedia artist. I develop my images digitally. Photographing and drawing, manipulating in Photoshop mostly then I print them out and work on them with gouache (opaque watercolor) with a series of random dots. I scan and rework them in Photoshop, print and make additional adjustments with gouache.

I have also created a series of paper weavings in which I have created multiple images slightly different then cut the images apart and woven back together. This fractures the surface with the pieces in the reassembled image not lining up exactly. Much like the environment is fracturing with different pieces missing.

I love the tactile surface of the buildup of paint embellishing the printed surface and developing the image. I also do stitched pieces were I build up the surface with random cross hatching of thread and beads. The tapestries are a blend of different fibers including sometime metallic threads. I dye my own yarns for additional control of the colors and surface. The tapestries put these images into a different perspective, taking them out of their everyday environment.

My work has evolved from bucolic to images that exam our environment. This thread of the environment and its fragmentation has run through my work for a number of years. The interweaving of technology and the natural world explodes into every aspect of our lives. I work with this contrast between the hard edge modern world set against the natural environment, drawing on the world around me for my imagery. In this refocusing of imagery that we constantly walk by without noticing my hope is that we will see what is happening in the world around us in a new light.

With this love/hate relationship, lip service is given to the natural world while technology bulldozes through the environment both literally and figuratively. We close our eyes to the destruction and leveling of the landscape. The struggle is a world of contrast and conflict. Today forces more than ever are threatening our world.

I am including eight images of tapestries, multimedia gouache, paper weavings and images stitched with random cross stitching and beaded.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
Being an artist can be very challenging in any times. With all the current cut backs now is an even harder time.
It does require dedication and determination. Unless wealthy it is necessary to decide how to arrange a life that will allow you time to create. Many artists patch together a living.

Also you have to decide what you want to create. If you are going to create what the market is seeking or make work that is meaningful to you. Some of my earlier pieces were easier to market but I decide this was not enough. I did not just want to do pretty pictures and production work but wanted address issues that were important to me. This work is challenging to market.

I feel lucky that I was able to structure my life in a way I had time for my art. I am thankful for my husband’s support and that can live with beads in the living room, etc. I did production placemats, scarves, shawls, blankets, etc. I had a market for these and it was a hard decision to walk away from this and the pretty landscapes tapestries. My trucks and earthmoving equipment are not as popular.

New Hampshire has been good to me and I have found many outlets. I’m working hard now on getting my work out there in a broader area.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Living with Crafts, Sunapee Fair, League of NH Craftsmen, August 4 thru 12, 2018 https://www.nhcrafts.org/annual-craftsmens-fair/

The Biggest Little Tapestry in the World, American Tapestry Alliance, Convergence, Reno, Nevada.
Northwest Reno Public Library, July 1-31, Opening Sunday, July 14, 2018, 2:00 to 4:00 PM
https://americantapestryalliance.org/exhibitions/unjuried-small-format-tapestry-exhibition/

Camel Rug at League of NH Craftsmen, Littleton, NH
http://littleton.nhcrafts.org

A Second Look, Kimball Jenkins Estate, WCA/NH, Concord, NH, July 9 thru August 26.
https://www.wcanh.org/

Tapestry in New England and Beyond, Highfield Hall, Falmouth, MA, September 9 thru October 31.
Opening Reception, Sunday, September 9, 2018, 1:00 to 3:00 PM
https://highfieldhallandgardens.org/tapestry-in-new-england-beyond/

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
Charting Nature (and People)
6 Washington Street
Dover, NH 03820
(603) 742-2002
https://www.childrens-museum.org/

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo of artist – Raymond Hamel
Artwork Images – Suzanne Pretty

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1 Comment

  1. Dolores Broberg

    September 5, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I am a tapestry weaving colleague of Sue’s. I am also a prize winning artist. However, my work pales in comparison with hers. The depth of Sue’s thoughtful design and artistic skill in expressing them is powerful – wryly amusing, stunning juxtaposition of discordant images, yet wrapped in a stunning beauty which draws the attention, again and a gain. Brava Sue.

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