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Susan Brandeis recently retired from full–time teaching at North Carolina State University’s College of Design, where she was Distinguished Professor of Art & Design and a member of the University’s Academy of Outstanding Teachers.  She holds a Master of Science degree in Art Education from Indiana University and a Master of Fine Arts in Textile Design from the University of Kansas.

Her studio practice has focused on large-scale works for the wall in public places.  She continues to investigate hand and machine printing; dyeing; stitched embellishment; the juxtaposition of pattern and color; and the contrasts created through individual and layered materials and textures.  She has sought a personal visual repertoire––a “language”––of materials and techniques to communicate the essence of places of great natural beauty; the tantalizing mysteries of encounters with ancient scripts, petroglyphs, palimpsests, faux text, and symbols; and, images of place captured during travel by rain in the US and UK.

Her artwork has been published in the books Celebrating the Stitch; The Surface Designer’s Art; The Art Quilt; Freestyle Machine Embroidery; and Contemporary Quilt Art; and in leading craft, design, and textile art magazines such as American Craft; Fiberarts; Surface Design Journal; The Design Journal; Embroidery (U.K.); and Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture.  The work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in England, Ireland, Finland, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Colombia, the International Biennial of Tapestry (Switzerland), and at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC.  She is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian.  She has taught summer workshops at Penland School of Crafts (North Carolina); Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Tennessee); the Split Rock Arts Program (University of Minnesota); Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (Maine); and the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts.

She founded the Southeast Fibers Educators Association and was a three–time Visual Artist Fellow with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.


Artist Statement

Making a textile is a kind of magic.  Early in life at home I learned sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, and quilting.  Those experiences planted the seeds that have grown into my passion for making textiles by hand and my understanding of the powerful combination of materials, techniques, skill, craft, imagination, and spirit.

I make textiles because I love the rhythm of repetition and pattern, complex color contrasts, textured relief surfaces, and the feel of the materials in my hand.  I savor the slow meditation of making as an antidote to life’s rush and bustle.  I choose simple, natural materials for their honest liveliness.  I avoid trends to search for an enduring aesthetic.  While the ideas are mine, the work is not about me.  I prefer images and concepts that transcend the personal to touch universal human themes.  Fabric work has become as natural for me as breathing, and its expressions a “language” often more eloquent than speech.

I usually create multiple works in a series to explore and speak more comprehensively ideas. I sometimes use the contrast of panels in a single piece to allow the viewer multiple simultaneous glimpses: close views next to distant ones.  Recent works make reference to books or codices, with layers of marks, texts, and symbols that suggest time, memory, and the vagaries of human communication. I’ve taken my stitching on the road to capture impressions of places on my travels, then turned the same attention to the places I love in and around my own home.

My approach allows me to work with a wide variety both new and found materials, as well as a broad range of textiles techniques, including hand and machine stitching, dyeing, rusting, drawing, and digital printing on fabric.  It is the balance among different technologies, both hand and digital, that makes my current working process satisfying—and still magical.

For more information:

Download my Resumé or CV

Write to me directly at: brandeis@ncsu.edu