In the Studio with Susan Amorde
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
Ever since I can remember. I was always the kid in class making the large size paintings about the topic of the day. In fact, I still have a large painting on rolled up butcher paper of jungle animals that I did in elementary school—probably 4th grade or so.
What does a day in your art practice look like?
Every day is different. I settled in at home during the last year and a half, but before that, I worked in my studio in Inglewood. Depending on my other jobs, current exhibitions preparation and time, I was working in the studio more often at night and during weekends. If I was prepping for a show, I would be there for 15-hour days, multiple days in a row. Now I am working at all hours of the day and evening as my house has been transformed into an art studio. It’s convenient and yet as my work has increased in size, it’s gotten a bit overcrowded. Sometime soon I will be moving back into my Inglewood studio.
What do you wish to accomplish with your art?
To tell meaningful stories, convey feelings and highlight current issues in the greater society and in my life. I want to express myself and my views to effect change, highlight issues and work through self-identification. Making high quality and highly skilled art is important to me, as well as to continue to grow and experiment with my work and incorporate humor where possible.
How has your art evolved over the years?
In college, I began working with live models—drawing and sculpting the figure in all sizes, including a life size figure in clay, and a variety of other materials. I was also introduced to bronze casting and welding which I love. My early work in figure sculpture was medium size, often cast in bronze, and then I moved to a larger studio which afforded me the opportunity to do large non-figurative sculpture using vintage suitcases (one is 18 Ft high). The “Baggage” series is much more conceptual than I had previously worked. I then did a funny series called “Little Dicks” that are very small highly polished bronze sculptures of penises with arms that make gestures —for example one is “Dick’s Apology” where the penis with arms is leaning forward to offer a rose of apology. This last year I did a 180 deg about face and learned how to paint in watercolors. I just finished a series of nature works combined with portraits of prominent women in politics in an exhibition titled “Forces of Nature”.
Do you ever find yourself limited by the materials that you have available?
No. Whatever materials I need, I thoroughly research and seek them out as needed for whatever I am working on.
What is the most challenging part about being an artist?
Time management and balancing the business /administration part of an art practice with art making. Also, I have found that I tend to do works that use desperate materials or are totally new to me that creates big challenges and sometimes a lot of stress.
Do you have a specific audience in mind for your work?
Anyone who enjoys sculpture, drawing and paintings of various types, and is willing to be challenged a bit by the story telling. A lot of my work is of nude figures, so sometimes that is challenging for younger audiences, or rather their parents. My daughter grew up with nude art and often came to figure sessions with nude models. But not all children and adults are taught to honor and appreciate the human figure and are embarrassed by it.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?
It’s difficult to make a living in the arts, so you must be driven to create and love what you do. Often another means of support is needed to help with finances. I always found my other work in the art field with museums, collectors, galleries, and artists so I was close to the art world.
What’s next for you in the future?
Returning to sculpting the human form is coming soon as I get withdrawals when I veer off for too long. There is just something about working with clay that I really love. I suspect I will be incorporating my new skills in watercolor painting with sculpture in some way. I have antique frames with shadow boxes waiting in my studio for new bronze figures and possibly watercolors as well.