Artists continuously collect information and materials, then sort through it and make connections. These day-to-day mental and physical activities are all part of their studio practice. This collecting and connecting is self-evident in the work of Michigan artists Ruth Bardenstein, Jean Buescher, and Susan Moran. The three artists met in Ann Arbor and, over time, have nurtured both personal and creative connections. They regularly share and critique one another’s work and together visit gallery and museum exhibitions.
Ruth Bardenstein’s background in mathematics, emblematic visual diagramming, and collecting of related ephemera imbue her work with an awareness of inter-related systems. It has both contemplative and spatial depth within the confines of the 2D picture plane. The mental gymnastics and probing within its physicality challenge the viewer to keep exploring the systems which structure our world.
Jean Buescher Bartlett recently opened a talk about her work by saying that she sees herself as being just a small part of the natural world. Her mixed media works on paper meld her traditional training in sewing, drawing, painting, design, and book arts, with her early connections to nature. For most of her life, she has lived adjacent to woods, which she still feels a strong tug towards. Her lyrical, spare, meditative work exhibits her reverence for the overlooked and the everyday.
Susan Moran’s textile pieces echo her strong connection to the earth and its bounty. They evince an exuberance and intimate familiarity with their subject matter. She seeks out vintage textiles as her substrate, allowing the palimpsest of previous use and ownership to inhabit and further enhance the poignancy of the work. Likewise, her study of traditional world textiles provides a structure on which to base her compositions.