Susan Pullman Brooks
Susan Pullman Brooks sees art everywhere, especially in the natural world’s processes of life and death, and in the lost and forgotten remnants of culture. A perfect day is spent scavenging, searching for bones, glass, antlers, metal from abandoned farm equipment in the fields and rocky ravines at home in western New York, during her regular trips to India, and everywhere she travels. Through rethinking and combining these objects in her studio, she creates her work. In that process from discovery to realization there is a deep and rich connection to worlds of Hindu and Celtic mythologies and the solar system informed by both a personal spiritual narrative and inspiring historical worlds. What is laid bare by the earth and sea is an unconcealed passion made vivid in her work.
Earlier in Susan’s artistic life, she focused on painting. Apprenticing at the Huntington Fine Arts Academy during High School then graduating from The Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), she states, “I was passionate about my painting and drawing, but I would get my work done quickly, then I had too much energy and too little discipline to stay in the studio. My assets became my liabilities.” The conflict between her talent and the academic structure was so intense that she was relieved to leave art school behind. Her journey took her in new directions.
Early in the ‘90s Susan developed an interest in yoga, and in 2003, founded Flip Dog Yoga studio in Bucks County, PA. Her curiosity in Hindu mythology inspired multiple pilgrimage trips to the temples of South India. The influence of Hindu myth combined with the physicality of yoga reignited her desire to make art and shifted her approach. The archetypal goddess also played an important part of her transformation as began to explore connections with pre-Christian Irish and Celtic mythologies. This began a slow, painful peeling back of her assumptions about what it meant to be an artist, and what her work could look like. In this process she also reconnected with a childhood love of building from natural materials. Her creative turning point came in 2012. “It occurred to me that what I really love is translating the narrative that appears in my mind into three dimensions.” Her passion for pilgrimage brought her back to the woods, digging in the earth, walking on the beach, and looking for spirits in objects left behind. She has since excavated a vast collection of abandoned metal implements and animal bones, including the skeleton of a black bear that she reassembled. Her fascination with osteology, unlikely treasures from the earth, astronomy and mythic narrative are at the core of her creative life. For people unfamiliar with Norse and Hindu narratives, her work may appear abstract, non-representational, but it is always imbued with the warmth of familiar objects assembled in provocative ways. Her work is a leap beyond two dimensions to the wild joy she felt as a child creating landscapes in three dimensions.