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CITIZENS: NEW WORK BY SUSAN HAGEN
“My primary artistic concern is to convey – through the sensuous forms of wood sculpture and a narrative language informed by current events – some of the raw beauty around me in the world that I am stitched into. My process as a sculptor, as I have established it for myself, is a unique hybrid of traditions. I combine techniques of Northern European wood carving and painting, with methodology stolen from the prosaic genres of miniature crime scenes, doll houses and historical dioramas. I discovered through the years that the process of woodcarving would allow me to translate my experiences of the world into a tactile, pocket-sized parallel universe.
As a long-time resident of the City of Philadelphia, I feel more and more connected to the place I live. I love the people, the places, the rich textures of public life in the city, and over the past few years, my work has become more and more focused on the changing, ephemeral nature of this reality. My current project, “Citizens,” is a series of works that celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of ordinary people who make up the fabric of urban life. I create small-scale portraits in wood in order to express my affection for (and connect with) the strangers, friends and neighbors around me. My goal in this project is to capture a moment in time and create detailed portraits that record each person’s individuality with the dignity that they deserve. My drawings, done in conté, ink wash, and watercolor on paper, help me to develop and plan the sculptures. So far I have worked with utility workers, marathon runners, community gardeners, police officers, sports fans, homeless people, skaters, street festival participants, and trick-or-treaters, as well as Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney. Inspired by the current political climate in the city, many of my recent portraits have featured activists, artists and protestors.”
Susan Hagen is a sculptor who lives and works in Philadelphia. Ms. Hagen received a BFA in Sculpture, with a Minor in Drawing, from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MFA in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Over the years, Ms. Hagen’s artwork has been exhibited in numerous venues throughout the U.S., including del Mano Gallery in Los Angeles; the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art; the Tweed Museum in Duluth, MN; Miami Basel; and SOFA Chicago. Her work has been featured in recent one-person exhibitions at the Center for Art in Wood, Schmidt Dean Gallery, and Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, and the Dime Gallery in Chicago. Ms. Hagen has been the recipient of fellowships and artist’s residencies from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Other honors include artist’s residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, Chicago, IL and the McColl Center for the Arts in Charlotte, NC, as well as artist’s grants from the George Sugarman Foundation, the Leeway Foundation, and the Independence Fellowships in the Arts. Ms. Hagen is an Associate Professor at the Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA and has taught workshops and master classes at Anderson Ranch in Colorado and Penland in North Carolina. Ms. Hagen is engaged with the current discourse in her field, and has guest curated numerous exhibitions and written hundreds of articles about art for publications and blogs, including the Philadelphia City Paper, Woodwork magazine, and the Artblog. For more information: susanhagen.net