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ACRYLIC BODY PRINT ON CANVAS
36" x 12"
New York City
“The power of art and the connection with others it affords me is priceless.”
Susan Spangenberg is an American born artist. She is a painter, writer, and actor who performs under the stage name Shyla Idris.
Coming from a severely dysfunctional family which led to group homes and institutionalization in her teenage years, Susan cut her outsider artist teeth at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s renown ‘Living Museum’ art rehabilitation program. She was on the vanguard of the 'Girl, Interrupted' female asylum artist wave that has in twenty years become the new normal, yet Susan has maintained the raw essence of that genre imbued with a twenty-first century sensibility.
Susan’s work is autobiographical, commenting on her experience in the mental health system as well as touching upon other relevant social issues. Susan likes to incorporate text and writing into her art, including messages from her late twin brother Robert. Her themes range from the autobiographical, personal struggles in life to iconic heroes, mental health, women’s rights, animal welfare, race, and incarceration. There are also elements of spiritual symbolism from her East Indian ancestry, samples of her psychotropic medication and hand sewn fabric throughout her work. She works in small and large-scale format encompassing textile, mixed media, painting and body prints.
As a self-taught artist, which is often linked to the term "outsider artist," Susan comments, "sometimes I feel like an outsider, sometime's I don't." Susan has grown with her art making, balancing her inner visions with the demands and wants of the art market, educating herself along the way as a form of power and self-betterment.
Susan hopes to inspire generations of female artists to document their trauma, inequality, and identity and show how these realities have affected them – and to give female artists the freedom to speak out as she has.
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