the artist

Susan Fenton

Susan Fenton

Philadelphia, PA

Susan Fenton

Susan Fenton’s subject matter is directly linked to the cultural and/or environmental influences of a particular time and/or place in her life. She worked from her own preconceived sketches, much like a filmmaker with a storyboard, using the figure as a human element with a few props to provide reference. The props are designed and constructed in the studio, sometimes taken from existing articles that are altered and combined or completely fabricated by her. Susan’s pictorial space is tightly composed and, in spite of any narrative content, her primary concerns are visually formal. The resulting images are singular narratives in which the model provides an anonymous “persona” existing in an undefined world.

Susan Fenton’s figurative work is about the relationship between the human form and the fetishism of fashion, the visual effects of covering and/or exposing parts of the body and the impact of its presentation. Susan’s images address issues of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and the concept of beauty by drawing attention to the complex ideology from which we develop style. The symbolism and iconography that the fashion industry has dictated, its power to promote the ideal as commonplace, and the resulting effect on personal self-esteem are constant threads throughout her work.

Much like her treatment of the figure, Susan Fenton also worked in still life, collecting, altering and constructing simple objects arranged in a shallow space. This work, often done on location, is a response to the light, sound, architecture, landscape, and cultural history of places where she lived, traveled to and worked in.

Throughout the breadth of her work her intention was never to document, but to allow the transformative qualities of a photograph to generate a psychic response.

Fast Facts

Name: Susan Fenton


Place of Birth: Philadelphia, PA

1980 M.F.A. Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
1975 M.A.Ed. Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
1970 B.A. Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Significant or special training:
Susan Fenton traveled and lived abroad for over twelve years of her adult life which had a significant impact on her as an artist.

Notable or memorable instructors or mentors:
Leon Golub was her MFA thesis advisor and mentor at the Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University

Particular field of study or class work:
Painting for her MFA and a self-taught photographer.

Major influences/admired artists:
Giorgio Morandi; Caravaggio; Jan Groover; Paul Outerbridge; Cindy Sherman; Carrie Mae Weems; and Kehinde Wiley

Favorite materials or media:
Gelatin Silver Print Photography, Marshal Oil Paint, Large Format Digital Photography

School or university affiliation (when Convention Center acquired artwork):
St. Mary’s College in Rome and Temple University in Tokyo

Gallery Representation (when Convention Center acquired artwork):
Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

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