Susan Begy is an interdisciplinary U.S. artist interested in the shared aspects of being human. She creates graphite drawings of large, twisted forms made up of smaller images. Using similar twisted forms, she makes carved stone sculptures, sometimes incorporating other materials such as steel, glass, or found objects. Begy’s work explores power dynamics, polarity, hypocrisy, and productive cooperation. Her sculptures and drawings, simultaneously elegant and uncomfortable, often reflect upon nurturance and conflict. Her collaborative projects playfully reimagine human interactions and institutions.
Begy was a recipient of a Genesee Valley Council on the Arts grant as well as a finalist for a 2015 Creative Capital grant in Emerging Fields for Econival, a carnivalesque interactive event based on economics. The project was featured in its research and development stage on Creative Capital’s ‘On Our Radar’ in 2016. She created Art Collision & Repair Shop, in which teams of artists transform the unfinished or "stalled" work of other artists. The project debuted at Center for Contemporary Art Santa Fe in 2014-15 and was a coalescing force in the Santa Fe art community.
In 2010, Begy earned her MFA in Fine Art from School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her works have been exhibited in contemporary art centers and galleries in the U.S. and Europe. She has co-founded and co-directed artist-run exhibition spaces in Los Angeles and Brooklyn. Currently part-time faculty at Syracuse University, she lives and works in Rochester, NY.
Artist Statement - Studio Work
I am interested in the systems (galactic, solar, cultural, economic, educational, mathematical, reproductive) that provide structure for all existence. I am fascinated by the human drama—performances if you will—that unceasingly takes place within these structures, which I view as their stage. Systems are what hold us together. It's the drama, however, that holds our attention.
Quantum theory says, or at least I interpret is as such, that nature comes in bits and pieces (quanta) and that at the subatomic level energy and mass continuously change into each other. Similarly, in my mixed media work on paper, the graphite and paint continually trade position in primary and secondary space, vying for the viewer’s focus. The graphite drawings, curiously tucked into empty areas on the paper, are bits and pieces of our little human dramas.
Eventually I brought the graphite front and center. The sinuous, twisting forms that appear in both drawings and stone sculptures embody our entanglement with one another and how we wrestle with living together. These swaddling forms also reflect a desire to soothe and comfort, ease the world’s pain, wrap its wounds. But I often introduce something that interrupts the loveliness—a clumsy steel pipe, an imposing penile shape, a hand flipping the finger, a marble ring designed to engage in a death battle with a growing tree. Images writhe and contort into each other providing glimpses of who we humans are, what we’ve been up to, and (perhaps) what we might be. ~ Susan Begy
Interdisciplinary visual artist with a background in a wide variety of mediums. Collaboration plays a key role in studio practice. Current studio work encompasses graphite drawings; sculptures that incorporate carved stone, welded steel, molded forms, and found objects; and collaborative community projects that playfully reimagine human interactions and institutions. Teaching at the university level is a new passion. Lived and worked for 12 years dividing time between Brooklyn and Santa Fe; 5 years living and working in Los Angeles; currently in hometown of Rochester, NY.
2010 MFA Fine Arts, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
1984 BA Studio Art, magna cum laude, Western State College of Colorado
2022-23 Part-time Faculty, College of Visual & Performing Arts, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY (3 semesters; courses taught: Observational Drawing, Figure Drawing, Painting for Non-majors)
2022 Adjunct Faculty, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY (course taught: Composition and Color Theory)
2005-08 Private Drawing Instructor, Santa Fe, NM (focus on foundational skills such as perspective, volumetric form, proportion, structure, value, negative space, and composition)
SELECTED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
2023 Artist in Residence, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, NY
2022 Artist in Residence, Writers & Books, Rochester, NY
2015 Panel discussion leader, The Mechanics of Making Art, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM
2014-15 Creator, Co-Curator, Project Manager of Art Collision & Repair Shop, a collaborative community project inspired by late father’s auto body shop in which artists repair the “stalled” work of other artists, culminated in exhibition at Center for Contemporary Arts Santa Fe, NM
2013 Curator, Per Square Foot, The Shirey, Brooklyn, NY. Performance and installation exhibition investigating aspects of living in a designated small space.
2011-18 Co-Director, The Shirey, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. A shared studio and non-profit exhibition space curating and promoting the work of emerging artists,
2012-13 Curatorial Intern, Art in General, New York, NY, non-profit contemporary art exhibition space.
2010 Installation Assistant, Continuum, artist Guerra de la Paz, curated by Julian Navarro, No Longer Empty, Williamsburg Bridge, New York, NY
2004-05 Gallery Co-Director, Topanga Canyon Gallery, Topanga, CA
2003-05 Gallery Co-Founder, Co-Director, Satsuma Gallery, North Hollywood, CA. Responsible for drafting and obtaining LLC, gallery operations, installations.
SELECTED AWARDS, GRANTS
2023 NY State Council on the Arts (Entanglement community drawing project) administered by Genesee Valley Council on the Arts
2022 Awesome Grant (Wishbones community sculpture project)
2016 Creative Capital grant finalist in Emerging Fields for Econival, an interactive, collaborative carnival event that investigates financial structures. Featured in Creative Capital’s On Our Radar site.
2009 Le Prix de la Sculpture Noilly Prat, Paris, France. Sculpture design award and commission.
1996 National Exhibition of Women’s Works on Paper VI, Rochester, NY, Juror Award
State of the City, Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, NY, curated by Bleu Cease
Uplifting, Connecting, Rising, El Barrio Artspace PS109, New York, NY, curated by Emireth Herrara
Wishbones, Writers & Books, Rochester, NY, curated by Annalisa Barron
INflection of LIVING (solo online exhibition),1922 Gallery, curated by Bibi Flores
Voices of Women in Art = Inside and Out, 1922 Gallery, curated by Bibi Flores
Cryin’ Out Loud, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM, curated by Micol Hebron
Outer Local, David Richard Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, curated by Scuba
DISPATCH, ART.i.factory, Santa Fe, NM, curated by SCUBA and Strangers Collective
We, the Extranimals (solo exhibition), Axle Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM
Art Collision & Repair Shop, Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM
Hot Mess, Offroad Productions, Santa Fe, NM, curated by Kathryn M Davis
Used, Gallery Zipp, Glorieta, NM
Hopscotch, Art in Odd Places: Number, New York, NY, collaboration with Sasha Sumner, curated by Radhika Subramaniam
veiled (solo exhibition), Eggman & Walrus, Santa Fe, NM
structural mischief, solo pop-up exhibition, Santa Fe, NM
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Tree: Nomadic Art Initiatives, New York, NY, curated by Maria Jose Duran Steinman
dos XX’s, The Shirey, Brooklyn, NY, with Rachel Fainter & Colleen Ford
primordial soup, solo pop-up exhibition, Brooklyn, NY
Spontaneous Combustion, Gallery Zipp, Santa Fe, NM
Plus One, Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Dan Cameron
That’s Just It, Visual Arts Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Stephen Maine
Thanks…but it’s actually on purpose, Visual Arts Gallery, New York, NY, thesis exhibition curated by Augusto Arbizo
Le Prix de la Sculpture Noilly Prat, ArtParis, Grand Palais, Paris, France
Group Exhibition, The Edge Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
Topanga Canyon Gallery Juried Open, Topanga, CA, juror Patricia Howard
California Landscapes, California Heritage Museum, Santa Monica, CA
Group Exhibition, California State University at Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA
Inaugural Exhibition, Satsuma Gallery, North Hollywood, CA
Got the Blues, Topanga Canyon Gallery, Topanga, CA
Taming of the Elements, Topanga Canyon Gallery, Topanga, CA, with Laurent Diemer
The Written Word, Topanga Canyon Gallery, Topanga, CA
Topanga Canyon Gallery Juried Open, Los Angele, CA juror Patricia Correia
Where Are the Best Painters in Rochester?, Gallery at High Falls, Rochester, NY
Group Exhibition, Elizabeth Collection, Rochester, NY
National Exhibition of Women’s Works on Paper VI, Shoestring Gallery, Rochester, NY
National Exhibition of Women’s Works on Paper III, Shoestring Gallery, Rochester, NY
The Series and the Found Object, Angel Fire Gallery, Rochester, NY
Utopian Ideas and Multiple Realities, Pyramid Arts Center, Rochester, NY, with Ann Clarke
Sienna Facciolo interview, The Process podcast, Rochester, NY June 11, 2023
Graphic Ear interview, WAYO radio, Rochester, NY, February 2, 2023
Susan Begy’s Mural ‘Entanglement’ Connects Rochester’s Arts Community, City Newspaper, November 2022
Rochester First interview, WROC-TV, Rochester, NY, May 12, 2022
Good Day Rochester interview, WHAM-TV, Rochester, NY, April 29, 2022
Evan Dawson interview, WXXI radio, Rochester, NY, April 22, 2022
[Art] Worlds Collide, Santa Fe Reporter November 2014
The Zen of Art-Upcycling Maintenance: A Show of Teamwork, Santa Fe New Mexican, November 2014
You’ve Got Veil, Santa Fe Reporter, April 2013
California Canyon: Short Essays on Artists of Topanga, video, 2004
Topanga Messenger, April 2004
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, October 1996
Lake Effect Magazine, May 1996
Upstate New Yorker Magazine, February 1994
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, March 1993
Mountain Thought Review, Spring 1984
Noilly Prat, Marseilles, France
CT USA Bank, Naples, FL
Western State College of Colorado, Gunnison, CO