Susan Kae Grant
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In much of Susan Kae Grant's photographic work from the early 80's to present, she has acted much like a film director in staging and controlling all aspects of her photographic images. The work tends to be autobiographical and concerns relationships, dreams and gender issues. The narratives in her series "Autobiographic Dramas" are constructed from synthesized journal writings, literature and film and are often quite theatrical. They are ambiguous enough to invite interpretation and participation.The Night Journey Series is a body of work based on the artist's inquiry into the unconscious, which led her to work with sleep scientist, John Herman, at the sleep research laboratory of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. To access unconscious visual memory, Grant used herself as subject and was digitally monitored and awakened from REM sleep and then interrogated by trained technicians. Grant used the tapes of these narrative interviews as inspiration to create the imagery for the series. The photographs are made of shadows from sets created in the studio. The series was first produced on sheer chiffon fabric, hung from the ceiling throughout an exhibition space, allowing the viewer to drift through the panels as if in a dream. The second series took the form of black and white iris prints.
Another equally compelling part of Susan Kae Grant's art making are her book arts. She has published 13 handmade, small limited edition books that incorporate letterpress and digital technologies on handmade papers, with photographic imagery and text. The books, still concerned with issues related to her photography, detour into the use of exotic materials that are provocative and symbolic, giving a tactile significance to the work. Some of the books appear playful, but like Vestiges and Radioactive Substances, most tend to raise questions about identity, history and morality. Grant usually spends 1- 2 years researching each topic, designing the books, then constructing the edition. She uses the book arts medium as a way to physically engage the viewer and communicate ideas by balancing form with content while eliciting an emotional response to the work.
Grant is a Professor and head of the photography & bookmaking program at Texas Woman's University and teaches workshops annually at the International Center for Photography in New York City. She was the recipient of the "Crystal Apple Teaching Award" from the Society of Photographic Education in 2003 & 2005 and "The Excellence in Photographic Teaching Award" from the Santa Fe Center for Photography. Grant's photography is in permanent collections of various national museums including the George Eastman House; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the J. Paul Getty Museum; the Victoria and Albert Museum; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Susan Kae Grant received a B.S. in 1976 and a MFA in Photography and Book Arts in 1979 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.