Spotlight: Artist Susan Swartz on How Her Personal Health Issues Inform Her Work, and Why the Natural World Is Worth Protecting

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About the Artist: Artist Susan Swartz’s career is exceptionally multifaceted, and includes philanthropy, activism, film production, and, of course, painting. What makes Swartz’s endeavors so unique and intriguing are the ways these many facets inform one another. A defining source of inspiration and motivation in Swartz’s work has been her experiences with chronic illness, including Lyme disease. This has resulted in films like the 2008 award-winning , and a series of paintings that engage with and promote the importance of the natural world in the processes of healing. Swartz’s personal journey is one that she consistently seeks to share through her work, with the aim of helping others and aiding causes that inspire care for the environment, as well as changing how people view the natural world.

Why We Like It: Swartz’s paintings have an intriguing tactility that is in large part due to her use of dried fruit, flowers, and other natural materials on her canvases. By physically employing such organic elements in her work, Swartz engages both literally and thematically with ideas of nature, immunity, and humans’ inextricable link with their lived environment. Painting with a purpose is a hallmark of Swartz’s practice, and it extends past just creating gorgeous, large-scale canvases into philanthropy. This year, Swartz contributed her painting (2022) to the Sotheby’s Contemporary Discoveries benefit auction to support Instituto Terra. The work was chosen for the event while on view at the Susan Swartz Studios exhibition “August Day” this summer.

According to the Artist: “I’m often described as an environmental artist and that is an honor, but it is not a political stance for me. I seek to pay tribute to nature by painting the world as it is meant to be, so that we are inspired to protect it and take care of it… I have always been interested in the alchemy that exists between nature and art. With Covid, the importance of a strong immune system is critical. As I was working to build my own immune system, the thought came to me that I should include these elements in my paintings, so the world could reflect on the importance of our natural foods.”

See recent work by Susan Swartz below.

Susan Swartz, Evolution of Nature 24 (2022). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studio.z

Susan Swartz, (2022). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studios.

Susan Swartz, Evolution of Nature 25 (2022). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studio.

Susan Swartz, (2022). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studios.

Susan Swartz, Evolution of Nature 19 (2021). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studio.

Susan Swartz, (2021). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studios.

Susan Swartz, Evolution of Nature 19 (2021). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studio.

Susan Swartz, (2021). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studios.

Susan Swartz, Natures Resurgence 3 (2020). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studio.

Susan Swartz, (2020). Courtesy of Susan Swartz Studios.

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