Inconspicuous Things


Susanna Bauer’s intense focus

Susanna Bauer is an artist who explores craft techniques in unconventional ways. She embellishes leaves with thread and crochets around rocks and twigs. In addition, Bauer has created a group of diminutive weavings as well as elegant paintings, drawings and collages. Her delicate work is highly personal, influenced more by an internal need than formal academic training.

While many artists today are trying to push the boundaries of craft in bold and monumental ways, Bauer takes another approach. This quote from her website defines her orientation: “I like giving time to the inconspicuous things that surround us and often go unnoticed, paying attention to small details and the tactile quality of objects.”

Bauer’s focus is intense, particularly when she is working with threads and leaves. Her art is considered and deliberate, suggesting a concentration akin to meditation.  Although small in scale, each transformed leaf becomes an engaging miniature sculpture. It is hard to look at these pieces and not be mesmerized. The idea that something so small, fragile and insignificant as a leaf becomes the foundation of a sculpture challenges expectations and holds the viewer’s attention.

The leaf works are powerful examples of the interface between artist and nature. Many artists are inspired by nature and attempt to imitate what they see in the natural world.  Bauer, on the other hand, includes natural elements into her work as if she is actually collaborating with nature. In these pieces, the leaf is not simply a surface to work on or a piece of raw material to be used at will. For Bauer, the leaf is an element deserving respect and consideration.  What she adds to it, or subtracts from it, is done with a sense of reverence. Her efforts enhance the natural beauty that was her starting point.

When Bauer crochets around rocks, she fabricates sculptures that are the polar opposite of her transformed leaves. While leaves are excessively fragile objects, rocks are nearly indestructible. In a nuanced manner Bauer creates a new skin for the rocks, transforming the object. Many of these sculptures are variations of each other, different only by subtle colors of the threads used to encase the rocks.

Most of the sculptures are crocheted in such a way that a small hole is left at the top or on the side of each rock. It is as if Bauer is creating a window that exposes one small remarkable detail. Often a graceful line cuts across the exposed area. In these works, Bauer’s asks us to consider the simplest element on the simplest of forms, creating an experience similar to looking at a beautiful slide under a powerful microscope.

It is not surprising that an artist who is attracted to leaves and rocks would also see potential in broken twigs. Bauer simply refers to this body of work as Wood. These pieces are small in scale, graceful and intimate. Some of the wood sculptures are embellished and resurfaced with thread. In a few cases, Bauer uses these twigs as a loom, weaving a spider-web of thread on a Y shaped piece of wood.

Whether using rocks, leaves or twigs, Susanna Bauer shares her experience as a profoundly focused observer of nature. She notices what others often overlook and transforms what she sees into art. She gives us something that is exceptionally personal while at the same time universal.

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