The Bronfman Collection 
Virtual Gallery


CMC - 

Susan Low-Beer — Sculptor

Toronto — Ontario

Still Dances VIII (detail), 1992
clay and steel
71 in. x 16 in. x 14 in.
CMC (Bronfman)
Image used with permission of the artist
Archives - Box 614, F9

Susan Low-Beer - 
Photograph: Andrew Leyerle
Photograph: Andrew Leyerle
Making art for me is a journey, an attempt to discover something that resonates. I use the tension of experiences, readings, images and ideas to stimulate my thinking. I then select and fuse what is important in an intuitive way until a focus emerges. The search and the accompanying uncertainty create an intrigue, an intensity that leads me on. What emerges is a non-linear composite, a collage-like fusion. The amalgam of elements should have both a strong thrust of meaning, yet allow room for paradox and ambiguity.

Artist's Statement

Susan Low-Beer's chosen medium is contemporary ceramic sculpture. She is primarily interested in form and content and although she experienced general prejudices against the use of clay in sculpture, it remains her material of choice.

The selection committee saw evidence of impressive growth and risk taking in her work and felt that the Prix Saidye Bronfman Award will honour her achievements as an artist and, at the same time, serve as a catalyst for further independent development.

Susan Low-Beer's willingness to encourage and support the efforts of others, her generous sharing of technical information, as well as the integrity and high aesthetic quality that she has shown in her own work over many years, have given her a leadership role that the selection committee wished to recognize and celebrate.

Selection Committee Statement

It was at the end of her university studies that Susan Low-Beer began to use fired clay forms as a vehicle for her painting. She has investigated the sculptural potential of clay and its association with human history for over 30 years. Low-Beer returns constantly to the human form to express relationships through body, gesture and movement. Her body forms may be as large as life size, modeled and then hollowed out for firing, or sliced and reassembled, or simplified and streamlined.

Moving away from traditional glazes and paint, she has experimented with encaustic, a very ancient surface treatment using beeswax and powdered pigments, and with terra siggilata, where coloured slip is applied to the sculpture before firing. Both provide a warm and skin-like surface to the figures.

Some of Low-Beer's early work allowed the viewer to rearrange multiple sculptural elements. Later she chose to combine clay forms with steel structures in order to make them sit up or stand and allow a different relationship with the viewer. She works with the contrast between materials such as paper banners, steel plates and rods and clay pieces. Her figures may be single or in groups, sitting, standing, dancing or suspended on the wall.

It is perhaps as an artist whose work crosses the boundary of art to craft that Susan Low-Beer is important on the Canadian scene. Widely recognized as a sculptor, she has been shown at the Ontario Crafts Council and by the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

During the 90s, Low-Beer has exhibited widely across Canada, in the United States, Mexico, Japan and Europe. Her works are in many private and public collections. She has been active in the world of ceramics as a teacher, advisor and juror. She has taught at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Sheridan College and from her studio. She is a member of a number of craft organizations.

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