The Bainbridge Public Library is dedicated to spreading the joy of reading and the discovery of ideas with not just our local community, but with visitors from near and afar. In addition, the library is fortunate to house beautiful local works of art both inside and outside the building. Each month the library celebrates a local artist (or artists) with an exhibit, which opens monthly on the Island’s First Friday Art Walk tour, and includes a reception hosted by the featured artist.
The Bainbridge Public Library is proud to present an exhibit by artist Susan Wiersema
Susan will host a “meet and greet” from 5pm-7pm on Friday, October 1st to open her new exhibit, “Illustrated Pacific Northwest A-Z: Original Artwork on Dictionary Pages” for First Friday Art Walk
Susan Wiersema came to Washington State in 1994 with her husband, Ken to be closer to family and transition into new careers. In 1997, they’d settled in Shoreline and by 1999 Ken had earned his Civil Engineering degree from UW and was working for a firm in Seattle. With family in Sequim and the desire to relocate to a smaller community, they often found themselves attracted to Bainbridge Island. “I have to say that from the first day we moved here, it felt like home with excellent schools, a great library, and a supportive arts community,” Susan explained. “Also, we were looking at starting a family. It was all just perfect.”
Susan has a BFA in Photography with a minor in Graphic Arts from UC San Bernardino, and throughout her career, she has enjoyed working for photographic labs, museums/art galleries, and an art supply store. With each new field she explored, she was exposed to new mediums and techniques, such as charcoal, pastel, pen and ink, watercolor, collage and colored pencils. Using what she’s learned, she’s created pieces using all of the above mediums, however her true love is colored pencils (wax base, and water-soluble).
In addition to creating mixed media pieces, Susan gives private lessons and class instruction through the Winslow Art Center. She also works with a small group of friends, teaching and demonstrating various techniques. Since Covid, these meetings have been held via Zoom, but she’s looking forward to a time when they can resume in person. Although her working life has been varied, it has always involved art and photography.
Another genre Susan enjoys is pet portrait painting, which she began in 2008. Her first exhibit was via the Dog Days of Summer group exhibition at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts. Since then, she’s been doing regular commissions, as she described it, “I enjoy doing pet portraits. I love meeting and photographing people’s furry family members. I have created pieces from photographs by the owner, talking with them and hearing stories about the pet. Every bit of information I can get helps with the creation of the piece. I try very hard to capture the pet’s personality by focusing on their eyes, nose, and mouth.”
As a mixed media artist, Susan considers herself a “jack of all trades and master of none”. She’s always looking for new techniques and art supplies/tools she can incorporate into art. She’s addicted to Pinterest because it allows her to explore the talent of other artists, which often inspires her own work. She also has a quirky love of mathematics, “I love the art and beauty of the formula, even if I don’t comprehend most of it,” she explained. “My son and husband try to explain it to me. What can I say…I’m just a Southern California kid with a liberal arts degree.”
About her show: Several years ago, Susan was given a well-used 1946 dictionary and was asked to do something creative with it. Although inspiration didn’t strike then, it did a few years later, when she came across artwork on Pinterest, which was printed onto old dictionary pages. She dug out her old 1946 dictionary, extracted a page and began to draw upon it.
The same love she has for mathematical formulas is shared with her love of the written word. “Different languages and different font styles are all just lines and shapes making patterns. I can look at a word and not understand its meaning, but it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy its beauty,” she says. “Dictionary pages are full of letters, numbers, symbols, and images that create a beautiful pattern to work on, much like decorative papers. The paper quality of most dictionaries is solid and durable.”
Susan uses water-soluble pencils for her “dictionary art” because it allows for simple texture and transparency, allowing the words to show through the lighter colored areas.
All of the dictionaries for this project had been damaged or discarded. With the advent of electronic devices, the printed family dictionary has—for the most part—become a thing of the past. Through her artwork, Susan is repurposing these old books into something new and unique, giving them new life outside of the recycling bin.
Susan’s exhibit is available for viewing and sale at the Bainbridge Public Library throughout the month of October in the meeting room during regular library hours and on the library website, www.bainbridgepubliclibrary.org.
To view more of Susan’s work, visit her website: Art and Stuff by Susan Wiersema (squarespace.com)
As always, thank you for supporting your Bainbridge Public Library and local artists. If you have interest in exhibiting your work, feel free to contact Linda Meier, art coordinator, at email@example.com
***Library content and images provided by Linda Meier, Bainbridge Public Library and Susan Wiersema