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Fighting for the rights of women and children

Interview with Susan L. Pollet


1. Please tell us something about your background and your art journey so far.

 While I was a public interest lawyer in New York for over forty years, primarily regarding family court, children’s rights, domestic violence and criminal issues, and a leader in women’s bar associations, in my “free time” I was always creating art, as I had been doing since I was a small child. 



I encouraged my two daughters and now my grandchildren to develop their creative sides.  I travel extensively as a lifelong pursuit and to develop my eye, and will continue to do so as long as I can.  In my fifties I began to take formal classes at the Art Students League of New York (becoming a member in 2018 to date), the 92nd Street Y, and Cooper Union, to bring my artwork to a more professional and visible level.  I began and continue to have my work seen in group shows and on online galleries, such as this, and regularly post my art on social media.  In addition, I am an author of twelve published books, including three children’s books which I both wrote and illustrated.  I created the covers for all of my books.  In order to better share my work, I created a website for my artwork and writings.  As I enter my seventies, I am continually emerging, experimenting with new tools, techniques and subject matter, while still retaining my unique way of seeing the world and making marks.  I try to capture beauty, mostly, as I have been exposed to so much ugliness in my legal career and advocacy for women, children and families.


 

2. Describe what a normal day looks like as an artist.

 My entire day and night is filled with creative thoughts.  I have not experienced a block—yet. Perhaps it is my sense of making up for lost time which propels me as I could not devote myself so completely to my art previously.  Wherever I am I take photos and edit what I see for future inspiration for my artwork.  I think up poetry in my head, usually at night, and write a poem every morning.  The writing feeds into my visual art, and vice versa.  I read articles about art and view images of other artists continually, including regularly viewing museum and gallery art exhibitions and listening to curator talks.  Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Suzanne Valadon, Mary Cassatt, and David Hockney are some of my personal favorites.  Luke Hall’s interior designs inspire me.  Since I am a morning person, I tend to create my artwork in the morning for as many hours as my eyes, back and inspiration will allow.  I work mostly at a large table on the dining room table in my NYC apartment, with a rolling cart by my side, containing my paints and tools.  When I am traveling, I always find a table.  So far, I work mostly on smaller canvases and papers.  I am a “birds eye view” kind of person, but who knows what the future will bring.



3. Is the artist life lonely? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Like other artists, in order to think and create, you need many hours of alone time.  I do not find that to be a lonely existence.  From the time I was a small child, I took care of myself and spent many hours working on my own.  For me, it is a comfort and luxury to deal with my own thoughts and visions, uninterrupted.  Prior to the pandemic, when I attended classes and lectures at the Art Students League of New York, there was a community of artists to interact with and to be inspired by.  As a member, I continue to follow and be inspired by them and there will always be artistic communities to engage with.  You can be alone or in company as little or much as your introversion or extroversion dictates.  The important thing is to be brave in the desire for an artistic life, despite the comments of people in more traditional fields who may question your time in such efforts or your talent.  Not everyone will think that art is important or like your work.  If your ego depends on that it could bring loneliness.

 

 4. How does your art life impact other parts of your life?

Fully delving into the creative realm has impacted my level of joy.  With more intensity in looking at things and feeling them for my visual art, and paying attention to rhythms in my written work, it brings me a special kind of satisfaction and elation.  I have learned more patience in that when I do not express things the way I want to, I have more persistence in working on them to more fully approach what I am looking for, without beating myself up or feeling less than.  I greet each improvement with a sense of victory.  As long as I satisfy myself, I do not concern myself with how I may be critiqued elsewhere, as I will never have control over that.  With age, I have a stronger and stronger sense that being true to myself and my vision is more important than anything else.  When I work on art with my grandchildren, I experience a sense of continuity.

 

 5.  Can you tell us more about the theme in your art and  your inspiration?

I often choose to create art from images of women as part of my journey in fighting for the rights of women and children.  As part of my family resides in France, I often have french related themes.  My travels have taken me to many far off lands in addition to France, and international subjects often surface.  In the pieces of artwork I have shared with Goddess Arts Magazine, made with acrylics, pastel pencil and gouache, I have concentrated on images of women expressing different aspects of the self.  My love of flowers, appreciation of beauty, and desire for hope is seen in the combination of the tulip and a woman’s form and in the Hawaiian inspired woman encircled by roses with a bright, orange sun and mountains in the background.  In the woman on a pedestal inspired by Cuban cigar box art, I painted the goddess surrounded by palm trees and, again, encircled by flowers and sun.  In the plant holder of a ceramic woman’s face, I tried to capture her serenity.  The growth from her brain shows that she is more than just a pretty face.  In the image of the vintage and fashionably dressed woman with an umbrella, inspired by French art, she makes it clear that she is wielding more than just an umbrella.  Finally, in the self portrait in a straw hat in the light of southern France, with a wink toward Van Gogh, I capture my happy place.


Facebook (Susan Pollet), X (@susan_pollet), Instagram (@suepol1976), LinkedIn (SusanPollet), and Threads (suepol1976).

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