The Drawers - Susan Austad   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Situation, Positioning, Location

From the heart of the art scene in New York City to the lush tropical forests of the Dominican Republic, both influences are immediately perceived in Susan Austad's watercolors. In her large scale works, she has taken the familiar technique further and branched off into sculpture, bringing the scenes off the walls, building canvas constructions. These grew into wire mesh assemblages and then large wall sculptures utilizing light. But the watercolors, the humble beginnings when the hand was directly linked to the magic of place and translated the exotic natural setting into a work on paper, a piece of art - these are the pure conduits, where nature and art conjoin.

Austad's work is spiritual. Actively in tune with the culture of the D.R., she has visited the gushing waterfall, painted and captured it in its rushing as she stilled the formidable flow with the watercolor medium. The importance of the location grew in eminence as Susan Austad painted. Salto Jimenoa is close to where Susan and her husband, Ramon, a Dominican, have built an artist's retreat that focuses on Taino ceramics, an ancient form of pottery that centers on the potent myths of their location.

In these works on paper, Austad repeatedly returns to research the visuals of the earth in its cleansing, vital aspect (the waterfall) and in doing so brings the spirituality of the location into the realm of another sacred practice - art as a manifestation of the spirit of creation. The message is amazingly simple; the earth as an entity holds more beauty, richness and inspiration than man in all of his comings and goings, dealings and entrepreneurialism, can grasp. The closest example of the phenomenology of this natural beauty is the work of art. Each color a gem, like the rainbows formed by the sprays of waterfalls, there is peace and harmony in these works without the slightest sensation of those attributes being trite. Austad's validation of the correct order of the universe embedded in natural phenomenon reaches a transcendent, Blake-like realization of spirituality. To sit before San Jimeon with her watercolors and the sophistication of an informed artistic discipline and yet be pure enough to just paint it, goes above and beyond the largely jaded awareness of the New York art scene. The work, therefore, resonates with belief and affirms natural rites.

Copyright 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers