Artists' Television Access

Suzie McMurtry: Revisiting Settling

Saturday, August 22, 2020, 6:22 pm

revisiting settling
video documentation of:

Clothestile I
photographic transfer & dye on canvas 48″ x 72″

Me in the Park 1933
graphite, dye, collage & oil on canvas 36″ x 60″
Orange Palm Hearts
photographic transfer & dye on canvas 36” x 48”

for Artists’ Television Access
© Suzie McMurtry 2020
This series of three canvases includes depictions of my grandmother in San Francisco in 1933, e-commerce style images of clothing I made or altered, and photographs of palm trees in front of my current home in the East Bay. In this video, footage from around the area is projected onto these
paintings. The dye used here is not plant-derived, but the impetus for this particular rumination on family history, memory, ecology, and settlement in California was one invasive tree, whose
leaves produce a bright orange dye.

In the 1950s my grandmother planted a Eucalyptus cinerea, or Silver Dollar Gum, for this purpose. This single act, done almost exactly a century after a similar species was first turned loose in the Bay Area by colonizers who somehow thought it would make good lumber, feels different: isolated. Since she first told me that this tree near her driveway had a unique use, I have been harvesting leaves every few months to dye wool.

The revelation of the orange dye-producing tree coincided with our unearthing of a family loom from the basement about 50 yards away. Although the present pandemic has slowed my ability to weave on
that loom in my grandparents’ living space, this extracting, dyeing, projecting and processing of photographs has been a way of asking: what should be done with the physical products of our ancestors’ decisions? These things are not static nor disconnected from larger systems, though they may feel that way to the individual. I’m reminded of this at least every few months when I harvest leaves for another dye bath; the spot on the trunk I’ve taken from has always at least doubled in new growth.

Curator’s note: For the show’s duration, McMurtry will seek narratives from the public which engage the show’s themes. To participate, please complete the form here.

artist bio:
As an artist and designer, Suzie McMurtry wants to contribute to a future functional circular economy. Her work aims to investigate the desire to create, collect and discard objects while acknowledging the very real need to simply stop. As we build communities that are oriented away from capitalistic individualism, where does self-expression through clothing, artmaking, or collected objects fit in? Can we covet without greed? Collect without hoarding? These questions are what interest her now.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay peninsula, McMurtry graduated from Colorado College with a BA in Studio Art, where she focused on weaving, sculpture, and printmaking. She currently lives in the East Bay (unceded Muwekma Ohlone territory) where she has worked as a teacher, seamster,
photographer, and logistics coordinator in sustainable fashion. She will attend Central Saint Martins in October 2020, to pursue a Master’s degree in Material Futures.

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