Happy Friday. Today we venture inside Sue Kreitzman's studio to take a look at her artwork.
Let's see where we left off on Tuesday.....
SK: ".....Anyway, I knew I was very bad at art, but I picked up a marker and my hand drew a mermaid on a scrap of paper. I looked at the mermaid, the mermaid looked at me and in that moment I became a different person. Suddenly I couldn’t stop drawing and I used the colored markers to color it in and now I have notebook after notebook, folder after folder, filled with art. It became all I wanted to do. I did it all day, I did it all night."
RD: Do you still have the mermaid?
SK: "I do." (She flashed me a mischievous smile).
As we were leaving Sue’s apartment to go next door to her studio, I noticed that mermaids were everywhere.
RD: What is it about mermaids that speaks to you?
SK: Mermaids to me, are the perfect symbol of the post-menopausal woman. They are free from problems 'down there'. Also, they are in control of their own sexuality. They get to choose when their tail is on or off. Ignore the Disney version of them - utterly ridiculous.
So here go into the studio....
SK: "Either I had a psychotic break or the muse bit me on the bum or more likely it was the menopause".
RD: What did your family think of all this?
SK: "Well my family - they knew my feeling for colour, but they were gobsmacked, absolutely gobsmacked. They said, What have you done with mother? Who is this person? My agent thought I had completely lost my mind and some of my friends didn’t like it at all -
RD: Why didn’t they like it?
SK: First of all they didn’t like the art, second of all they couldn’t understand what I was doing and why I was so obsessed with it".
SK: "I had a couple of friends who were artists and they were incredibly supportive. One friend invited me over to lunch with some of her other artist friends and asked me to bring some work. So I did and she said, “Sue, you are so talented” and I said, "Well no, not really.......Really?"
SK: "I do blame it on the menopause. I completely lost interest in cooking, the central obsession of my life was completely gone. It became all about drawing. I stayed up all night, I could not stop".
RD: So you’re obsessive in your creative endeavors whether it be cooking or art?
SK: "I am. Nicely put. I loved to work with nail varnish. the translucents and vivid colours fascinated me. But I knew it was very toxic, this was before I had my studio, so I would paint on the bed. I had two windows open for the cross breeze and a fan on. I would paint and I would freeze".
RD: What are these head sculptures?
SK: "These are my memory jugs".
RD: What are memory jugs?
SK: "Memory jugs started as a craft that was a pastime of Victorian English, but it was adopted as an African-American tradition in the South. When a person died, they would take jugs - sometimes moonshine jugs, and cover the jug in putty or clay and embed personal belongings onto it to put on the grave. They might use items found in the person’s pockets and sometimes photos. It’s really very poignant".
SK: "I made my first one using a measuring jug, it was inspired by my husband, my son and our life together. I have a lot of trouble selling them because they are so personal. I hide little amulets and secrets inside them. They are very spiritually potent. They're also very female. My work is all about the female landscape."
RD: Did you always dress this way or did it come with the "bursting into flames, bursting into art"?
SK: "No I always dressed colourfully, bordering on weird. I went to school on Long Island and the girls would wear cashmere sweaters and gold circle pins. It was hideously BORING!!! I had rich aunties and they would send boxes of hand-me-downs and I wore their things and looked like no one else at school. I always loved jewelry. I would save my babysitting money and go down to Greenwich Village to buy that Bohemian copper jewelry, you know? I still have a lot of it."
SK: "I curated shows too. But I’m not curating any shows right now because I’m writing a book on wearable art. I’ve also been offered a one-woman-show in the spring here in New York, but I don’t want it to be a one-woman-show, I want it to be a group show with my people. I like my shows to be a very crazy Disneyland for very peculiar adults. I want you go in there and come out changed. I want you to come out wanting to be an artist yourself".
Here I am like a kid in a candy store:
SK: "This one ( the photo below) represents a mother's influence".
RD: Ah, if it's not one thing it's your mother.
SK: "Ha! Exactly, she's always in there".
RD: You do so much, is it exhausting being Sue Kreitzman?
SK: "It’s exhausting, but it’s very exhilarating."
Thank you, Sue, for letting us all into your wonderful world. It's been an absolute pleasure!