A quote by the great naturalist John Muir, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe…”, describes a personal view and an approach to how I paint.

My work is an ongoing process of abstracting and synthesizing many ideas to find subject matter that inspires painting. Many ideas create a conceptual starting point and ultimately the common denominator of a painting. I draw upon a collaged hybrid of ideas and visual information from a variety of subjects some of which are outlined below.

Color is extremely important to me.  I relate to Joseph Albers’ idea that color is relational, that a certain color responds and changes when juxtaposed with another color. The palette in this body of work is informed by the saturated, synthetic and natural colors in Mexico City, and the unlimited palette of India.

Geology and the natural landscape are a continual source of great inspiration. I’m fascinated by the randomness of moraines, accumulations of unconsolidated glacial debris and masses of rocks and sediment formed and deposited by a glacier.

The moraine-like sculptures of early John Chamberlain sculptures have been influential to me since childhood as my first experience of contemporary art outside of a museum setting.

 Small-scale landscapes found in Tibetan Tanka paintings and the geometry within Hindu Yantras are also an inspiration. 

Gongshi, also known as scholar’s rocks, are naturally occurring or shaped rocks which are traditionally appreciated by Chinese poets and artists. Found in nature and usually left unaltered, scholar’s rocks represent a microcosm of the universe on which the scholar could meditate within the confines of his studio or garden. I’m intrigued by the negative shapes, craggy forms and variety of sizes of the stones and by their use to aid meditation and creativity.

Marcel Duchamp's “The Standard Stoppages” is interesting not only for its beauty but also because of what we know about how it was made.  Duchamp dropped a string onto a canvas and the curve that was created by this action determined the shapes of the three wooden pieces of the assemblage. The elegant shapes of this piece are referenced in some of the works in the exhibition. 

The idea of the grid cell and its functions inspire. The grid cell is a type of neuron in the brain that allows us to understand our physical position in space and was the inspiration for the design of GPS navigation. MRI scans and graphs highlighting this cell and its activity are elegant maps of triangulations and colors.

The llareta is a desert plant growing high up in Chile's Atacama Desert.  It grows a little over a centimeter per year and some plants can be up to 3000 years old.  It’s beautiful, ancient, enormous green-blob-shape is awe-inspiring.

The Rural Studio, formerly run by the late Samuel Mockbee and his students, is an architectural program at Auburn University. Students in the program design and build functional, beautiful houses and community buildings out of reclaimed and unorthodox materials for low-income residents initially in Hale County, Alabama.  This program and its “Architecture of Decency” is an amazing social project that “unites abstraction and meaning” and shows how smart design can change lives and should be for everyone.

I’m interested in the idea of group think and the way that parts make up the whole, like honeybee democracy, the psychology of a mob, the rally.

Finally, this work was mostly created before the pandemic. However, Covid 19, the balancing act of our current times, the intensified social and political pressures and my search for grace also inform this work.

—Susan Dory, Seattle 2020

Statement for Motherlode, TEW Galleries, Atlanta, GA, September 2020