Another Way of Looking: Influences from Islam
main gallery: May 21 to June 26, 2010
Susanne Slavick, Rebirth: Eve’s Escort, 2007, gouache on archival digital print, 16x24”
Raised in a Catholic home by a father who studied in the seminary and a mother who converted from Lutheranism, I have long been influenced by the images and symbols of faith. My outlook on social and political justice and commitment to pacifism was deeply informed by my religious education. Just as I have explored and translated the iconography and spirit within my own Christian culture — its saintliest acts and bloodiest mistakes — I have also sought to learn more about other faiths, especially the faith of our supposed enemies: Islam.
As a citizen of a country that is often at war, I resist the demonization of any population and seek to reveal the religious and cultural expression of those we willfully or obliviously misunderstand here and abroad. I do not presume any expertise in Islam and recognize its diversity of religious expression. I borrow images from its art and architecture, knowing that I am an outsider. In considering and responding to its traditions, I seek to reveal, regret and reconstruct that which is threatened, lost or ruined in countries currently under attack. I see my artwork (the R&R(&R) series in particular) as a kind of empathic restitution.
My work has been influenced by the religion of Islam as expressed through its visual and literary culture. I am immersed in an ongoing search to discover and establish connections between Islamic culture and my own. Rejecting the intolerance of fundamentalism, whether Judeo-Christian or Islamic, I seek the principles and practitioners of faiths that insure our ability to do more than simply survive, to live good lives and perform good works, whether we attain salvation or not.
Susanne Slavick is an artist whose imagery relies on sources ranging from antiquated cartography to Persian miniatures to internet documentation of sites in conflict. With the crossed eyes of a realist and idealist, her recent paintings and works on paper are attempts at empathic restitution, gestures of recognition, remorse and recovery in face of devastation.
Slavick is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon. Graduating from Yale University in 1978, she subsequently studied at Jagiellonian University in Krakow and earned her MFA at Tyler School of Art in Rome and Philadelphia. Slavick has exhibited in museums and galleries in across the country as well as in Europe and Asia. Her paintings have been recognized through an artist fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and four awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 2008, she was designated “Artist of the Year” by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts where she premiered “R&R(&R)”. Works from this ongoing series of works on paper have traveled to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, the Chicago Cultural Center, Bradley University and Art Chicago through Zolla Lieberman Gallery. Her solo show at McDonough Museum of Art in Youngstown, Ohio opens this fall.