Susan Jamison is best known for her intricate egg tempera paintings, which present a mystery cult of florid women who foray into the wild and commune with animal spirit guides or familiars, acting as avatars for the viewer’s imagination. These figures combine vulnerability and strength, sexuality and innocence, the magical with the natural. They are often tied or bound with delicately painted threads or lace and other references to domestic crafts. Jamison’s feminine iconography spans several media, including painting, drawing, textile based sculpture, and installation, all steeped in ritualistic and mythological associations.
Jamison received a M.F.A in painting from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. Her works are held in the collections of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Mint Museum, The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, Try-Me.org, POM International Corporation, and numerous private collections. Jamison lives and works in Southwest Virginia.
The figures presented in my allegorical egg tempera paintings are like Pictish warrior women decorated for battle, like Mother Nature whose skin is blooming, or akin to a Fascinatrix luring through spells. Alongside the enchantress are fauna native to the Blue Ridge Mountains, her familiars which serve as agents for her communion and receptors for her enchantments. Resisting a specific narrative, my paintings are enchanted moments from my highly feminized vision of a woman re-wilded.
In my sculptural and installation work I’m using crafting techniques such as sewing and embroidery to create poetic, symbolic forms which are feminist social commentary, that memorialize, or that invoke magic rituals. As in my paintings, women’s bodies or parts of the body are my primary interest. My materials including textiles, lace, horse hair, domestic tools, powered milk, and sifted soil, are methodically chosen to create my reimagined artifacts and scenes of secret ceremonies.
I arrived at SFAI with very few art materials trusting in myself to respond to the unfamiliar environment and create work based on this experience. I walked around the campus every morning in the desolate landscape. There were lively goats that were kept in a pen near the residency center and I became fascinated with them. Dry dirt and goats became my inspiration. I persuaded the SFAI staff to let me create an installation project in the empty exhibition space. I used sifted rust colored soil from the area, along with powdered goat’s milk, red embroidery floss, collected quartz rocks, and a large tumbleweed to create my project “Milk into Dust.” I paired it with life size paper cut-outs of the goats affixed to the wall titled “Milk Rain.” I fearlessly let go of my very controlled studio practice and trusted in my abilities to make art from dirt.