WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION (PART 1)
BIO & ARTIST'S STATEMENT
Fran Sutherland, is an award winning painter and teacher who shares her time between the Hudson Valley of New York and the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona. During her career she has taught students from elementary through college level within the New York State school system.
She was a scholarship student at the New York Phoenix School of Design and later received her Bachelor and Master degrees in art education from the State University of New York, College at New Paltz.
Presently she is an active member of the Santa Rita Art League (SRAL) and The Community Performing Arts Center (CPAC), Green Valley, Arizona, the Arts Society in Kingston (ASK), Kingston, New York and the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM), Woodstock, New York.
Her multi-media paintings, reflect her studies and travels, and synthesize both Eastern and Western cultural and artistic aesthetics. Fran Sutherland’s artworks are present in numerous collections.
For further information visit the artist’s web site: www.fransutherland.com
by Toria Barnhart
Fran Sutherland is an award-winning artist and art teacher who splits her time between the Hudson Valley in New York and Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains. Sutherland brings her love of the natural world to life in her paintings, creating Eastern-inspired landscapes and abstract works depicting the moods of the outdoors. Although she never wanted to be a professional artist, Sutherland’s formal training allowed her to become an art teacher. Now retired, Sutherland gives private painting lessons and spends her time traveling.
How do hiking and traveling inspire your art?
When I’m finished hiking, I do these paintings that are like hanging scrolls. I would show the view of what was in front of me. Of what I see when I look out. Then I do a smaller painting of the view at my feet. The small one, where you’re in the moment, is hung below the one that shows where I’m looking out. I designed this presentation to have you, the viewer, share my experience – to share my way of looking at life.
To see life as you see it?
When you’re looking at life, you have to look ahead at where you’re going. But it’s critical to recognize where you’re standing in the moment, right now.
What inspired you to become involved with art?
It wasn’t what inspired me to become involved with art. Art for me saved my life. There was dysfunctional stress at home, which I attributed to my father, who survived the Battle of the Bugle at the end of World War II. They didn’t treat veterans back then. My mother realized I had a gift and saw that I had private oil painting lessons when I was 10 years old. In elementary school, my art teacher provided me a space in the classroom to work and create.
What was the most influential experience for you as a student artist in New Paltz during the 1960s?
I think it was when I was painting and earning my master’s with Manuel Bromberg. He would stand in front of my artwork and show me an Émile Bernard painting, and he would talk to me. He could make me understand why and how a painter painted what they painted. He could do this without touching my canvas. Being a student of his was probably the most significant relationship I had. It has inspired me to continue being a painter and a teacher because he was brilliantly both.
How do you use your creativity as an artist to teach others?
I’m a very creative teacher. When I started working at New Paltz High School, I read the global studies textbook. Then I based my curriculum around helping the students understand the social, economic and spiritual values of other cultures. I’m an inductive teacher. I get a great deal of joy out of helping someone else create art.
Tell me about your first art show.
When I was teaching at the high school, my coworker took all the paintings I had done. They were in a trunk in my house and he had them framed. Then, he arranged a local show for me. I made enough money to go to Europe. It was the first time I realized I could make money as an artist and that people would actually want to buy my art. This man had a show for me and I started to sell. That’s another strange thing about my life. I’ve never had to promote myself.
What do you think made the 60s the “Golden Age” of New Paltz for artists?
I think it’s because we had the curriculum we did and because we had professors who were professional painters. They did what they taught. I think that it’s very real, to not have someone do it the way you do it. We were taught the technical skills of how to make art properly but they also taught us how to show the world what we really wanted to say with our art. It gave us a voice.
How does it feel to be considered one of the best artists from the “Golden Age of New Paltz”?
Oh my God, I just got goosebumps. That’s what it gives me. It’s very validating, isn’t it? To be included in something like that. I have a great deal of pride and I’m very honored to be a part of it, all of it. I lived in the best of times.