Susan Lowdermilk creates artist books and limited edition prints in her home studio in Eugene, Oregon, working primarily in woodcut, wood engraving and etching. She is a full time faculty at Lane Community College’s Art and Applied Design Department in Eugene, Oregon, teaching courses in printmaking, artist books and graphic design. She also teaches artist book and printmaking workshops throughout the United States. Her artwork can be found in numerous public collections including the Getty Museum, the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. The University of Oregon Special Collections Library is a repository for her artist books. Her work is represented in galleries throughout the United States. She earned her Master’s of Fine Art from the University of Oregon, and her Bachelor’s of Fine Art from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Through my art practice as a printmaker and book artist, I reflect my life experiences and relate them to a broader sense of the human condition: struggles, transitions, choices and the inevitable element of chance. I explore and express these themes through familiar forms and shapes, symbolic of humankinds’ shared stories as we, as individuals, progress from one day to the next.
I am interested in dualities in our human condition—chance versus strategy, faith versus reason, serendipity versus design, peace versus war, winning versus losing. I relate these themes to the patterns of fractal shapes found in nature and how the patterns relate to our relationship to and separation from nature.
I also explore these themes by illustrating the objects that surround us in our lives while examining the conscious or unconscious significance we place on them. Our possessions—personal, sentimental, broken then repaired, expensive or kitsch—become our totems, our lucky charms. I am intrigued by a variety of objects, natural or manmade for their form, beauty, usefulness or uselessness. They track time, triggering memories, signifying place-holders in our lives. In my work these everyday objects hold metaphorical meanings. A vase, for example: containing our joys, our fears, our confusion, our wonder. A deck of cards: child’s play or a fragile existence about to topple over?
I am a maker of these everyday objects, specifically books. I work in the genre of the book form to create objects that carry significance beyond their function. My artist books are limited editions, hand printed and hand bound. Our experience of reading books is increasingly changing from being physical and tactile to digital and virtual. I see my work as a counterpart to the flood of digitally created text and imagery that we see everyday. My movable books and work with optical toys like the zoetrope are meant to show movement that is transparent in its method but still create compelling visual illusions. My work is meant to be thought provoking and hopeful, mindful yet mysterious, posing open-ended questions.