Over the past thirty years Sue Willis has created sculpture and works on paper which reflect her deep appreciation for animals and the natural world and suggest the connectedness between all things in nature. Her materials include hand-built porcelain, stoneware, resin, cast bronze, glass, encaustic, paint, and found objects.
She was born in Chicago in1955 and received her MFA from The Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in1979. Since that time, she has resided as a working artist in New York City, where she is currently an adjunct-associate professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology. She has also taught at New York University, Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and their Oxbow artist-residency program in Saugatuck, MI.
Her public works include the Kennedy Medallions (selection of materials and fabrication) for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the design in maquette of three (thirty-five foot high) steel site-specific sculptures, commissioned by Chermayeff & Geismar Associates/NYC for Altria Group (installed in Richmond, VA), the design and fabrication of the Pegasus Medallions for Mobil Oil, commissioned by CGA (presented at Madison Square Garden), the design in maquette of all Mardi-Gras Pavilion sculpture for the Louisiana World’s Fair Exposition, commissioned by MetaForm Inc./NYC, and execution of twelve large-scale murals installed in London for MacKay’s Stores Ltd, commissioned by Tucci, Segrete & Rosen Consultants/NYC. Other commissions include life-size, figurative sculpture for Klemtner Advertising/NYC and works on paper commissioned by Eastern Airlines.
Exhibitions include Beacon Street and Cliff Room galleries in Chicago, The Union League Club of Chicago, The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY, The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology, The Concorde Room/JFK Airport, Jane Hartsook Gallery at GHP, Robert Friedus, Ceres, and Mary Delahoyd galleries in New York City. Her profile was featured as a six-page illustrated article for NHK Magazine/Tokyo.
Feminist Artist Statement
My concepts comprise commissioned and personal works, many which focus on symmetry, balance and compatibility of components. These suggest my aspiration toward harmony and a balanced environment and reflect my deep appreciation for animals and the natural world. My recent work focuses on the cyclic nature of being and the perpetual, encompassing nature of spirit. Traditionally my work has sought to communicate the precarious nature of life and to raise public awareness of the conscious nature of all beings and their perilous disposition due to eroding habitats and inhumane practices.
I perceive our planet Earth as the nurturing Mother, imperiled and in need of our assistance. My ongoing objective and heartfelt desire is to foster recognition of ourselves as caretakers of our planet and all sentient life. My concepts address the necessity for our communion with Earth, its organisms and life-sustaining habitats, and propose our evolution toward this end through our collective psychic journey. The subsistence of spirit as it engages in the life/death cycle and its eternal vitality despite ultimate degeneration of physical form is emphasized as a rite of passage. The death of corporal form gives way to perpetuation of spirit as it merges with all things, staging a timeless drama with each outcome accompanying new beginnings.