"Body prints are slices of my soul. The process of exposing my ultimate fear and experiencing freedom. Pressing the flesh and my emotions is an intimate expression of vulnerability. This work is on Sanitest, an industrial wallpaper used in psychiatric facilities from 1980's to the year 2000's."
- Susan Spangenberg
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ACRYLIC BODY PRINT ON UNFRAMED SANITEST (INDUSTRIAL WALLPAPER)
48" x 72"
New York City
“The power of art and the connection with others it affords me is priceless.”
Susan Spangenberg is an American born, self-taught outsider artist. Raised in a severely dysfunctional family, which led to group homes and institutionalization during her teenage years, Susan cut her “Outsider Artist” teeth at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s renowned ‘Living Museum’ art rehabilitation program. She was in the vanguard of the ‘Girl, Interrupted’ female asylum artist wave that has in the past 20 years become the new normal, and has maintained the raw essence of that genre imbued with a 21st-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. She frequently incorporates text and writing in her art, including messages from her late twin brother Robert. There are also elements of spiritual symbols from her East Indian ancestry, samples of her psychotropic medication, and hand-sewn fabric throughout her work. She works in small and large-scale formats encompassing textile, mixed media, painting, and body prints.
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.
As a self-taught artist, which is often linked to the term “outsider artist”, Susan comments, “I’ve heard many different definitions over the years for the term ‘outsider art’. Let’s break the word outsider down to the simplest form and I’ll keep this definition without changing it or suggesting anything better or different (I’m not one for labels). Ultimately all artists feel like “outsiders” by definition, in that I believe none of us feel like we fit into society. And non-artists also feel like they don’t fit into society. Isn’t this why we all love art? This tug of war within ourselves individually, that we do not feel we fit into society and yet we all try to fit in because we must live in some form of society is what makes us all outsiders and outsider artists. I am proud to be an Outsider Artist. I exhibited in the first European Outsider Arts Fair as a member artist with The Living Museum.”
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