THE WORK AND THE ARTIST
Artist: Grant, Susan Kae
Title/Date: Journey Series, 2002
Description of the work: A black-and-white image of shadows and light. In the foreground, a girl sits on the floor, wearing a dress with a ponytail; one hand gently reaches up to a cage being handed to her by another child standing on the left, leaning in. Inside the cage is the shadow of an animal, a rat, or a miniature dog, and another child on the left leans in to look closer at the cage. Behind the two children on the left are wisps of tree branches, with sparse leaves. A light softly illuminates the center of the image where all the shadows are sharp, and it fades out into darkness as it reaches the corners of the image; the shadows begin to blur and slowly encumber the scene. All of the images are warped, bent, as if from a memory or a dream.
From the Night Journey series (2002), Grant examines the perceptual and psychological aspect of the dream-state through a visual representation. Created over a span of seven years of research in a momentous collaboration between science and art, bridging the elements of REM sleep, and imagery. Dreams memory and the unconscious, are captured using elaborately staged tableaus, with a 4 x 5 camera with a digital leaf back and printed on Hahnemuhle photo rag. Grant began her series with extensive research at the South Western Medical Rem Sleep Center with Dr. John Herman. Using herself as a subject, she submitted herself to the laboratory of dreams. She would fall asleep and then would be awakened during REM stage of sleep and interviewed. The recordings she obtained were then used to compile her narratives.
In addition to the photo images, Grant created a Night Journey installation that re-creates the fragmented and multi sensorial experience of dreaming. She combines photographic murals printed on chiffon fabric with audio of whispered phrases. It is set up in a maze of translucent murals that sway and flow as the viewer walks through. The maze is made up of 24, 4’x8’ vertical murals suspended from the ceiling. They float in space one-foot above the floor and allow for physical movement. The whispers are from her dream recordings in the sleep laboratory. Night Journey has exhibited at 17 venues across the country including New Mexico State University.
“Using the shadow as metaphor, I create images that explore notions associated with dreams and memory and provide pictorial access to the unconscious and unexplainable experiences. These works oftentimes conjure up childhood imaginings, fairy tales and nightmares while portraying a sense of surprise and wonder. By using mythic characters and ambiguous objects, I delve into the fantastic to create phantomlike tableaux’s. These tableaux’s capture lost and forgotten fragments of experience and emotion.”- Susan Kae Grant
Artist’s Biography: Living artist Susan Kae Grant obtained her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she focused on Photography and Book Arts in 1979. She taught at Wayne State University from 1979-1981, and then became a Professor and Head of the Photography program at Texas Woman’s University. She is also a staff member of the International Center of Photography where she teaches workshops on bookmaking. She has produced 13 limited edition handmade books. Her most recent book Shadow Memory was created during a 2005 residency at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester New York.
With a career spanning thirty years, Grant has enmeshed her spiritual life with her work, using intuition and self-exploration to guide her. Her photo series begins with years of research, trials of materials and hunting for the perfect props. Taking photographs over several years, thoroughly exploring each idea, she peruses the perfect image until all problems are resolved. Her images and books are multilayered and complex, resulting in uniquely designed, and content rich using materials such as fur, and lead sheeting.
Grant has conducted bookmaking workshops, lectured on artists’ books and exhibited her work throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, British Columbia, Africa and Japan. Her works are included in numerous public collections including The George Eastman House, The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Minneapolis Art Institute, The Tokyo Museum of Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Victoria and Albert Museum National Library. She is represented by Conduit Gallery in Dallas, Texas; Verve Gallery of Photography Santa Fe, NM; Modernbook Gallery, Palo Alto, CA; Gallery BMG, Woodstock, New York: and Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LTD, Birmingham, AL.
Date and dimension: 2002; 47”x35”
Medium: Iris Giclee Print
Accession # and Acquisition Date: 2004.04.01; 2004
Provenance and Exhibitions: Part of the University Art Gallery’s permanent collections at New Mexico State University. Currently not on view.
Framed or Flat: Framed
Current location: ST2Northwall
Bibliography: Witsell, Jon. “Susan Kae Grant: Night Journey.” Witsell. March 11, 2014. Accessed November 20, 2016. http://jonwitsell.com/susan-kae-grant-night-journey/.
Grant, Susan Kae. “Project Description.” Susan Kae Grant. Accessed November 20, 2016. http://www.susankaegrant.com/skg_nj_projectdesciption.pdf.
Egatz, Ron. “Featured Educator: Susan Kae Grant.” Photo Video Edu. April 25, 2011. Accessed November 20, 2016. https://www.photovideoedu.com/Learn/Articles/featured-educator-susan-kae-grant.aspx.
Researched By: Felicia Castro, 28 November 2016.