How Her Art Observes the Universal Narrative
Boulder artist Susanne Mitchell finds, merges and evokes our shared histories
Susanne Mitchell‘s art is layered with imagery both haunting and familiar. Combining her skills of painting, drawing and printmaking with found objects—such as vintage photographs, wallpaper, and swatches of fabric and lace—she creates multimedia pieces textured with material and meaning.
“My process is very much intuitive,” she says. “I’m really interested in looking at history and how the images you see in the past inform the present. I gather images from all over, and when I’m ready to create work, I start to combine them, working point/counterpoint, playing the images against each other.”
Born and raised on the East Coast, Mitchell earned her BFA in painting and drawing from California College of the Arts. While living in the Bay Area, she met and married a Malawian man, with whom she has a son. She moved to Colorado in 2002 and earned an MFA in printmaking from CU Boulder.
A world traveler, Mitchell has been profoundly influenced by her time in, and relationship with, Africa. Much of her work centers around themes of racism and segregation and the complicated and painful legacy of colonialism in Africa.
In addition to creating art, Mitchell has always had teaching as part of her career equation, with gigs at CU, Metro State and Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. Currently, she is loving her day job as part of the staff at Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder. “I have a lot of creative freedom,” she says, “and there’s something really special about working with teenagers. It feels sacred.”
Mitchell is now collaborating with former student Janelle Anderson for a show at the Arvada Center, sponsored by Pink Progression —a group of Colorado women artists who came together after the Women’s March to address issues such as human rights, equality, gender identity and inclusivity. The exhibition will explore the themes of motherhood and domesticity. Mitchell will also participate in a project at the Center for Visual Art in Denver in July, sponsored by activist collective Artnauts, dealing with barriers, walls and borders. “It’s interesting to me that there are these universal narratives—the systems we create that inform how we are supposed to live.”