Suzanne Gauthier was born in Lorette Manitoba and studied and taught at the University of Manitoba (BFA Honours 1969). She moved to Toronto in 1979 and to Montreal in the mid-1980’s, where she participated in a number of exhibitions and visiting artist programs. In 1989 she relocated to Halifax to teach full time at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. The recipient of several Canada Council grants, as well as grant awards from the provinces of Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia, she has also been a member of the selection jury for the Canada Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage Department. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo shows throughout Canada and is represented in public collections in Canada and the U.S. A book of her drawings, “Fox River Diaries”, was published by Ink, Inc. in 2006. In 2007 she participated in the exhibition “The Ulsan/Halifax Project” taking place in Ulsan, Korea, and in 2012 her work was included in an exhibition in Glasgow, Scotland. An exhibition of 40 years of her works on paper Over the Sofa was held in her studio/gallery Sleeping Dog Studio in the Fall of 2013.
connecting to a pool of artists
I’ve been a strong supporter of arts organizations for a long time and have been a member of the equivalent of VANS in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec before moving to Halifax in 1989. The benefits I’ve enjoyed from these arts organizations are opportunities for teaching in schools, exhibitions, disability insurance and connecting to a pool of artists with shared interests.
In the late 90s, after sitting on the VANS board as treasurer, I became Exhibition Co-ordinator, helping to develop and implement the province wide series of exhibitions which took place in 2000. Currently my VANS membership is valuable to me for providing information regarding residencies, exhibitions, and other opportunities via email and Visual Arts News.
fluid transitions from one medium to another
Drawing has been a constant in my studio practice and has informed all my work—mixed media collage, printmaking, photography, sculpture and painting. As a fine arts student at the University of Manitoba in the 60s, a large influence was the French School, Degas, Picasso, Matisse, Leger and others. Their impressive range, skill at drawing, fluid transitions from one medium to another, each body of work informing the next, has stayed with me and in a sense, has granted me permission to experiment with different mediums as well.
Contemporary influences are many and varied—the first two to come to mind are Christian Boltanski and Sigmar Polke.
lack of time
I suspect the challenge I’ve faced is the one common to most artists—lack of time. The need to make a living cuts into most artists’ time, though I was very fortunate starting out in Winnipeg to have a tolerant employer, Gordon Reimer. He ran a display/interior design company and hired me as needed for various contracts or I’d call him up whenever I was short of money. This gave me a great deal of free time and experience with different materials.
My parents very generously gave us, their daughters, part of our inheritance during their lifetime, which amounted to a small yearly grant. In addition, Canada Council Art Bank sales, provincial and federal grants, Artists in the Schools programs—all contributed to my income and a measure of independence.
In Toronto in the early 80s I sold my ceramics at Prime Canadian Craft and the Gardiner Museum shop, and sold aniline dyed silk to a bookbinder and a dressmaker. My advice to young artists is to encourage resourcefulness and flexibility to investigate all avenues.
Since retiring from teaching at NSCAD U. in July 2013 I have gone through my works on paper done over the past 40 years, discarding some and selecting others for the exhibition Over the Sofa held at Sleeping Dog Studio/Gallery last November. Most of the early works on paper were recorded on slides which necessitated taking digital photos of 100s of prints and drawings. I then set up a website/blog suzannegauthier.ca. Over the Sofa 2 will take place this year, opening November 14 to December 14 as part of a 5 year project. All are welcome!
My mixed media drawings have been exhibited in 4 group shows in 2013. Since May I’ve been taking photos of moving water, in Nova Scotia ponds and rivers, for my solo exhibition Acquainted with Light, October 16-31, as part of Photopolis. Large scale black and white prints 42” x 60” from 1987 will be hung next to the current series of digital colour photos at Sleeping Dog Studio Gallery. The two series display a similar interest in light, shadow and movement.