Get to Know Susan Hamburger: One of NMWA's Women to Watch
Tell us about your path as an artist.
I arrived in New York City right after college in the mid-80s. After about seven years of living and working in Brooklyn and beginning to exhibit, I wanted to be more engaged in the contemporary dialogue taking place around me. I went back to school for an MFA, which broadened my community of artists and friends and lead to my departure from painting and into thinking about myself as an installation artist and a maker of things. After many years of supporting myself with temp work in a corporate setting, I decided to transition into teaching, which has also deeply influenced my process.
Often when confronted with how to explain a procedure or technique to younger students, working it out in my studio has lead to a development in my own work. In addition, I was as the contributing arts editor of a Williamsburg neighborhood journal for six years following graduate school.
Writing on deadline, viewing a wide range of art and visiting galleries, deepened my connections to the local art community and expanded my visual vocabulary and capacity for meeting artists on their own terms.
How would you describe your style?
That’s probably a critic’s job, but I was once in a show entitled “Conceptual Realism” which still seems like an apt description.
What inspires you in your work?
I am deeply influenced by my ambivalent relationship to capitalism, consumer culture and conspicuous consumption – the way that we all have to wrestle with wanting things vs needing things and how that plays out in social, political and economic spheres.
My fascination extends into to the relationship between class, culture, style and taste and the hierarchies imposed by the art world ranking decorative below fine art, when they are both luxury commodities. Using art historical decorative references as a framework to explore the ugly side of American politics may seem a bit like fiddling while Rome burns, but it is a way to educate myself and sometimes, if I’m lucky, others.
What are some of your career highlights (so far)?
Certainly being nominated for NWMA Women to Watch is my most recent accolade. Prior to that, having spent 2018-19 as one of four Dieu Donné Papermill Workspace Residents was one of my most gratifying professional experiences to date. Finally, as an artist who sometimes writes, it was an honor to be invited to contribute to “Moral Hazard” to Duke University Press publication, Cultural Politics.
Get to know more about Susan at the National Museum of Women in the Arts Women to Watch 2020 event on July 11th. The event will also include opening remarks from our very own Marianne Howatson.
You can also discover more about SusanHamburgerhere.