Susan Silver Brown

I am a sculptor who has been living in the desert southwest for 25 years. I originally started my career at U.C.L.A. as an ancient, and then, African/Oceanic Art historian. I’ve always been interested in mythology, anthropology, and why art is so essential in society. In the so-called ‘primitive arts’, I’ve learned for example that in West African sculpture there is no word for art. ‘Artwork’ equals ‘healing.’
Artisans and shamans make art for the sole purpose of healing individuals through visual transcendence and non-verbal communication. I then quickly metamorphosized my philosophical studies into art. At that second, although artistic seeds had been germinating since childhood, I manifested the cerebral into the physical. A spiritual artist was born. Being an artist is an honest and explored life. It frees, heals my soul, and lets me contribute back to society to do the same. This autobiographical work is born out of our mystical feelings origin. In between being an art historian and a sculptor, I have had a celebrated 15-year career as a wearable art sculptor. I created very personal jewelry type work that was both philosophically poetic, as well as absurdly lyrical. These small sculptures were talismanic, sensually organic, and often with poetry written on them.
That work grew into the sometimes-provocative sculpture that I’ve been creating for the past ten years. Attending, Pilchuck, Corning, Penland, other glass schools, and studying with master craftsman has helped me make the transition to the medium that I was born to create with.
I think of these sculptures as “Mystical Surrealism’. In this intoxicatingly passionate journey of being an artist, besides being influenced by African and Oceanic art, the primal and travel, I’ve also been influenced by the surrealists. Mark Chagall and Dali have been major influences, as well as Jungian psychology, Buddhism, Francesco Clemente, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and Eckhart Tolle.
I create in an unconscious, dreamlike, state. Sometimes I feel as if in a trance, and that god energy moves through me, and the work is born out of the void; no drawings- just going with it! I try to combine the known and the unknown, the tangible and the intangible. In this confession of feelings and narrative I’m pushing for self-actualization through visual transcendence; for myself as well as my viewers. I’m confronting our struggle with existence, temporality, impermanence, love, and loss. I do this by interconnecting animal and man, nature and god energy. The Hindus have a saying I believe in, “The god within, moves in animals, sleeps in mountains, breathes in the plants, and thinks in man.”
This is why I often combine not just the primal elements of glass and bronze, but incorporate vertebrae, plant, and animal material. When I’m on “pod patrol” in Africa or India, I’m always looking for some wonderful plant, Zebra, or Hippo bone to bring back to cast into glass or bronze. I’m very much aware that we all have an inner longing to connect back to the source. That’s why I’m driven to make visionary work. I’ve never felt this more strongly than when I’m traveling in pristine environments like Antarctica or the North Pole. The primal ice formations and their stillness have been very inspirational in all my work.
Travel has always been a passion, having been to Africa and India half a dozen times, as well as Southeast Asia, Indo China, South America, and Europe. I love combining all societies together on our planet.
While on a pre-historic cave art expedition to Lascaux, France amidst cave paintings from 25,000 years ago; I became swallowed up by time and trance and gave birth to a new body of sculptural, spiritual work in glass.
The cave, as the symbolic home of the goddess becomes host to all that is primordial, mystical and intuitive. Feeling united with the mysteries of life in a subconscious and abstract manner, I have come to express myself in its archetypal form.
After exiting the caves I felt a rebirthing of self, reborn, as if I were one of the shamans that had participated in painting these sacred images on the cave walls. With this concept in mind, I often use the bird in conjunction with sensual human bodies; as the bird is twice born; once from the mother, and once from the egg..
When many people say the work is powerful, they are responding to this magic; seeing yet the absurdity and the fragility of life.
Glass is the perfect medium for this type of philosophical thought. With its fourth dimension of being able to see through the translucency, and the breath of bubbles from within it feels alive! It becomes spiritually and physically charged with life. Perhaps that’s why I feel like a shamanistic Geppetto conjuring up a studio of Pinocchio’s!
On the journey of life we are searching for release through transcendence or joy.We are looking away from attatchment and dependence and have a deep inner longing for bliss and oneness.The instinctual and innocent animals simultaneously symbolize both the inner personal unconscious as well as the collective unconscious on our spiritual path for bliss ,happiness and fulfillment.Their duality of being half man and half animal reflects our inner and outer unconsciousness and consciousness;the preyed and the preyed upon.It is that duality that maintains the thread of life and keeps us searching for our joy.
They whisper the secrets of long ago thoughts and dreams and promote healing through their insight and helpfulness.They are the shadow of our pre human animalistic past when we were not self conscious and only cared for survival.They carry the wisdom and represent the reservoir of all our past experiences and guide us and heal us on this journey we call life.

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