Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Find a Mate" in Columbia Metropolitan!

I'm thrilled to be in this great, local magazine! It's on-line HERE but I've "cut and pasted" it as well !

20th Annual Artista Vista Ushers in Spring
By Ravenel Godbold

Artista Vista returns for its 20th anniversary April 28 to 30. Galleries and local artists welcome visitors with complimentary wine, hors d'oeurves and insight into the artwork they have on display. Nationally recognized artists, along with local and up-and-coming artists, will be featured in this year's event.

A special addition will be the unveiling of Susan Lenz's art quilt, "Find a Mate," composed of socks that were donated by attendees of Vista Lights last fall. Lenz's quilt is intended to be a community art project, focused on educating the public about art quilts.

Free parking will be available in the Vista parking decks on Lincoln Street near Lady, Park Street near Pendleton and Lady Street near Wayne.

The Vista is Columbia's main art district, and it has continued to keep the art scene alive through the past couple of decades. The creative energy of the Vista has been the driving force in the success of restaurants, shopping and nightlife today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Runaway Runway, recycled bridal party, in progress

On Friday, April 29th Columbia's Township Auditorium will be turned into a recycled fashion mecca! I can hardly wait for my "recycled bridal party" to grace the catwalk in this year's Runaway Runway. Although none of these garments are complete, I'm on schedule!

Nothing was purchased for the creation of these garments. There are no “base” garments on which recycled items are merely attached. Everything (even the elastic, yarn, and thread!) was
either recycled or came from Bill Mishoe’s “walk around/junk” auction of USED household items.

(Above: Finally fitting for the "Recycled Bride". Model: Clary Powell. Click on image to enlarge.)

Bodice for Dress: white and off-white artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters and cording made from yard sale and leftover knitting yarns; thread.

Skirt for Dress: paper napkins collected during the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game at Three Lion’s Pub, Daniel Island; more white and off-white artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters; thread

Crinoline: plastic bags used to protect mat boards delivered to Mouse House, Inc.; thread; elastic.

Veil: White and off-white artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters stitched on water soluble stabilizer; over-sized mat board plastic bag; thread; elastic.

Jewelry: Bakery product plastic closure earrings.

Bouquet: artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters with “ribbon” made from a JoAnn Fabric’s plastic bag.

After this finally fitting, I've made "adjustments". For example, she's not going to be wearing the necklace and bracelets. I think they'll show up better on the bridesmaid. Also, I've altered the plastic part of the veil. In the photo, the plastic is two the bag that it is! I've removed one layer and cut delicate "holes" in the single ply to create a "lighter" look.

(Above: Final fitting for "Recycled Maid of Honor" Model:
Jamie Schumacher, my cousin who is graduating from the business school at the University of South Carolina the weekend after Runaway Runway.)

Bodice for Dress: Recycled, opaque silver dry cleaner bag; recycled felt from River Runner (used as packaging material to ship kayak to shop); thread.

Skirt for Dress: Recycled clear dry cleaners bags; thread; elastic.

Skirt overlap: Recycled, opaque gold dry cleaner bag; dozens of yards of “caution” tape collected in Five Points after St. Patrick’s Day; thread; elastic. Above is some of the "caution tape as it was collected....wrinkled, tied in places, dirty! Below is some of it after being washed, trimmed where needed and IRONED using very, very low heat.

Jewelry: Necklace/ruffle: Recycled “caution” tape collected from Five Points after St. Patrick’s Day; thread; cording made from yard sale and leftover knitting yarns. Earrings made from bakery bag closures.

Bouquet: TBA

(Above: Final fitting for "Recycled Bridesmaid" Model:
Olivia Thompson, my studio assistant.)

Dress: Recycled dry cleaner bags, woven and stitched; thread; cording made from yard sale and leftover knitting yarns. (Below is a photo of the "warp" of dry cleaner bags stapled to the wall outside my studio. I wove it, stabling each row onto the wall....then, carefully removed the staples and hand stitched all the edges to prevent it from unraveling.

Under skirt: Recycled dry cleaner bags; thread; elastic.

Jewelry: Necklace made of recycled dairy pull-tabs, recycled bakery plastic closures, recycled Teflon coated picture-framing wire (from a client’s picture needing to be reframed…this is NOT the kind used at Mouse House, Inc.); ribbon from a “box lot” at Bill Mishoes’ “walk around/junk” auction of used household products. Bracelet: matches necklace. Earrings made from bakery product plastic closures. (I was originally going to have the bride wear the necklace and bracelet.....but they'll be more obvious on the bridesmaid!)

Bouquet: White, off-white, and yellow artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpster; used 1” paint brush; perforated packaging paper; thread; “ribbon” made from a Coplon’s plastic garment bag. The packaging paper was donated by Ethel Brody (above), one of the other artists with studio space at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. Last week Ethel's solo show, "Encore", hung in the gallery. An abstract grouping of her oil paintings can be seen behind the "Recycled Bride" above. The exhibit was in honor of her 87th birthday.

Flower Girl: Greta Hahn, Daughter of Lauren Michalski. This garment will have its "final fitting" next will be posted later!

Dress: Yellow artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters created on a water-soluble stabilizer; thread.

Jewelry: Bakery product plastic closure earrings.

Flower basket: Recycled lampshade, recycled foam-centered board, recycled aquarium supply bucket handle; artificial flowers collected from cemetery dumpsters; ribbon from Bill Mishoes’ “walk around/junk” auction.

(Above: Free motion embroidery on strips of adhesive coated, Mokuba water-soluble "free lace" stabilizer).

I'm also hard at work stitching quotations about marriage and divorce onto wedding veils. These are for an installation called "I do / I don't", which like open on the same weekend in April as is Runaway Runway! It'll be a busy time!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Installation Site for "I Do / I Don't"

(Above: Location shot.....for "I Do / I Don't", an installation for Artista Vista 2011. Click on image to enlarge....and to experience the "hall of mirror" affect!)

Each spring downtown Columbia, South Carolina has an "art crawl" called ARTISTA VISTA. It's a fantastic event, April 28 - 30th. This year marks its 20th anniversary. For this special occasion, an art curator (my friend Jeffrey Day) has been employed to bring in performances and installation art. I'm one of the installation artists! I've been working hard to create "I Do / I Don't", an installation focusing on marital relationship....both marriage and divorce. Eleven wedding veils are in the process of being covered with free motion embroidered quotations donated by friends, blog readers, and just about anyone else that I can coerce into saying "something" about the theme! (Seven veils are complete!)

Well, the location for the installations has been found! It is WONDERFUL. I can't imagine a better room for my work....fourteen foot high ceilings, heavy crown moulding, rococo styling, floor length in-set mirrors, gilding, track lighting, ornate doors to three different areas on the ground floor of the old "Mais Oui" building on Gervais Street!

From the back entrance (front entrance is obviously at the end of the reddish carpet!), one only has to walk down these gorgeous stairs....

....through these Corinthian columns....and over the parqueted floors....and through the double doors....

...into this opulent room! The site for my installation! I can hardly wait!

I even took a video. The video is HERE.

Monday, March 21, 2011


(Above: Decision Banners at Volusia Wrapped in Fibers, Gateway Center for the Arts, DeBary, Florida. Feb. 15 - April 6, 2011. Click on image to enlarge. Photo by Mary McBride.)

I'm always thrilled when work is accepted into juried shows and when invited to sell art at high profile events. I often don't blog about these things though. First, it often feels too much like "bragging"; and, second, I frequently can't attend the openings or don't have time to post photos. Yet, many of these opportunities are simply WONDERFUL!

(Above: Strata VII. Click on image to enlarge.)

So.....Here's a link to The Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics. This important group is hosting the "2011 Leading Women Dinner Reception and Art Sale" on April 1st at 701 Whaley Street. Two of my pieces, Strata VII (above) and Geodes I (below) will be included. The website is currently showing all the artwork and also listing brief bios for each artist. I'm really proud to be part of this...especially since women in the South are so completely under represented in government!

(Above: Geodes I. Click on image to enlarge.)

Now...Here's a link to a great blog post written by Juanita Yerger. This talented fiber artist was able to attend the Volusia Wrapped in Fiber at the Gateway Center for the Arts, DeBary, Florida where I've got three pieces in the show! She wrote all about the exhibition and included the photos below.

(Above: Photos by Juanite Yerger at Volusia Wrapped in Fibers. My Flower Dress, made of artificial flowers from cemetery dumpsters, is in the upper center image. Several others show my Decision Banners. Click on image to enlarge.)

The organizer, Mary McBride, also wrote an email message to the participants in which she said, "My son reported that he tried three times before he could get close enough to see one of the exhibits (The Collector by Susan Lenz) and that while I was out greeting people, the galleries were packed. Everyone was blown away by the quality and sophistication of the work. Susan's other work Decisions was the centerpiece of the exhibition in the main gallery which also drew people into her 40 banners with words floating around their faces - very surreal."

Boy....I wish I could go to this exhibit!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


(Above: My 2011 NICHE Award in the category of "decorative fibers" and the packet that came with it.)

I almost kissed the mail lady.....not really! I had to actually open my mail to see the NICHE Award and read the incredible press release. I also had to tear open the letter stating that I was selected as the August Artist-in-Residence (AIR) at Hot Springs National Park! I'm so excited. The national park AIR program is highly competitive.

Steve said I should write my own press release and sent it to the newspaper. It felt really, really bragging or something....but I did it. Below is the "content" part...mostly an exercise of "copying and pasting" from the sent information!

Niche Award: Artist Susan Lenz of Columbia, SC has been named a winner in the 2011 NICHE Awards for the piece entitled Window I in the Fiber: Decorative category. Winners were announced in a ceremony held during the Philadelphia Buyers Market of American Craft on Friday, February 18, 2011. Only 179 entries out of nearly 1,000 submissions were named as finalists in this year’s professional competition. Of that group, 47 entries won awards in several categories including ceramics, wood, basketry, metal, jewelry, fibers and glass. The NICHE Awards program is sponsored by NICHE Magazine, the exclusive trade publication for North American retailers of American craft. The awards program began in 1990 to recognize the outstanding creative achievements of American and Canadian craft artists who produce work for craft galleries and retail stores. Susan Lenz is represented by the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC: the South Carolina Artisan Center in Walterboro, SC; and Mouse House, Inc. in Columbia, SC.

Hot Springs National Park: Artist Susan Lenz of Columbia, SC has been selected as the August Artist-in-Residence at Hot Springs National Park. The highly competitive selection process identifies finalists on the basis of entry materials, participation in national juried shows and publications, and the artist’s ability to relate and interpret experiences through their work. Interviews narrowed the field for final selection. Lenz will be creating fiber work during the month stay, one of which will become part of the National Park Permanent Art Collection.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Works in progress...and a whole lot of basting!

(Above: Wedding veils with free motion embroidered statements about marriage and divorce....hanging in my studio....waiting to be part of a site-specific installation called I do / I don't, April 28 - 30, 2011. Click on image to enlarge.)

I'm quite excited about this spring's annual art crawl, Artista Vista, April 28 - 30th in downtown Columbia. Of course I'll have work at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios. My studio is there. The resident artists have participated in this event for 20 years. In fact, this is the 2oth anniversary. I'll be showing my "Wall of Keys" installation, Endless Life (Grave Rubbing art quilt), and Genius (a sock art miniature quilt). There's no link for the "Wall of Keys" because I've only shown it once before. That was in Charleston last fall. I'm arranging it differently....with the express purpose of getting good photographs of it.

My Looking For a Mate public art quilt and its prototypes are also going to be on view....though the exact location hasn't yet been determined. Yet, the excitement for me is all wrapped up in a site-specific installation called I do / I don't.

(Above: Six wedding veils with free motion embroidered statements about marriage and divorce....hanging in my studio....waiting to be installed in an installation called I do / I don't. Click on image to enlarge.)

I've recently finished six of the veils. I've got five more to stitch. Thus, if you haven't submitted your "statement" and if you're reading this message within a week of this blog post's date, please email me at (For example: We filed for divorce on-line; I married my best friend; Never go to sleep on a fight; Marry in haste....Repent at leisure.)

(Above: Detail of free motion embroidery on wedding veils. Click on image to enlarge.)

All the stitching was done on one-inch strips of Mokuba's water soluble "free lace"/stabilizer. I'm also planning to display the submitted statements in other forms. The location has yet to be finalized....but my fingers are crossed that the intended place works out. It is absolutely interior with high ceilings; ornate, gilted/Rococo wall treatments; built in mirrors; parqueted floors; and track lighting! If it works out, there will be both "before" and "after" installation shots!

Over the weekend I spent one full day BASTING! It is hard to believe that this simple task takes so much time....but it does!

I started out with a really big piece of recycled white felt. Believe it or not, this was packaging material for some sort of canoe or kayak while being shipped to River Runner, the local outdoors store here in Columbia.

I actually stapled the felt to the floor in the atrium of Gallery 80808/Vista Studios and pinned down my two large grave rubbings. The first bit of basting was done while still stapled to the floor. My friend Jeff Donovan (whose studio door is open in the back....near his adorable dog Nugget) took this photo. (It can be clicked for an enlargement)

One of the main reasons that I seem to be so prolific is due to my husband Steve.....who cooks and cleans! This was the backyard scene I returned to after a long Sunday in the studio! I am one lucky stitcher!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Week Away in England!

(Above: Whole cloth grave rubbing created in the general cemetery in Nottingham, England. Brown and black crayon on silk-like fabric. 72" x 60". Click on image to enlarge.)

Last week was marvelous! Steve and I flew to Birmingham, UK to watch our elder son Mathias dance and even FLY as Alain in Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of La Fille Mal Gardee. His girlfriend Laura-Jane sparkled in the corps and as an adorable chicken....complete with tail feathers and wings. We saw three of the seven shows! Richard Edmonds' review stated, "Dingman takes the laurels making a touchingly deranged child of Alain, something Ashton would have applauded." (Read the entire review HERE!)

Photography is strictly forbidden during the production but I noticed a few people using their cell phones to capture an image during the final I snapped two as well!

(Mathias is on the left. Click on this or any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

We were thrilled to finally see Mathias and Laura-Jane's brand new house and also to spend time with her parents and grandmother.

Sunday afternoon was particularly grand. We had brunch in the traditional but very posh White Swan English pub and restaurant.

The food was AMAZING....but the company was even better! We celebrated both Laura-Jane's and her grandmother's birthday.

During the week Steve and I went to the nearby town of Aston.

We walked by Aston Villa Mansion (above)...

...and by Aston Villa's soccer/football stadium (above).

We spent time in the S. Peter & S. Paul churchyard (above). I copied down several great Victorian epitaphs.

On another day, we also took the local bus to Dudley...

...and visited the churchyard there (both images directly above)....

...the Priory park and ruins (above)...

...and happened into a great pub in the midst of a beer festival. Steve tried the "Skull Splitter" ale with its 8.5% alcoholic content (bottom tier, far right!).

Fortunately, he didn't sample this on an empty stomach. He had the "bangers and mash". I had the very traditional and delicious Yorkshire pudding.

On our other free day we went to Nottingham. I'd been to the beautiful, sprawling cemeteries before and knew to bring a large piece of material and my brown and black crayons. It took just over a single hour to compose a whole cloth grave rubbing from the amazing slate tombstones in the general cemetery. (Image is far above....the first one in this blog post.) I can hardly wait to machine stitch this piece.

We also visited the "castle", a newer structure built on the site of the original medieval fortress (above). The museum was great and the "children's area" focused on the legend of Robin Hood.

We had to participate by sticking our faces in the provided oval holes!

I took many more photos. They're on Flickr! Just click HERE to view them!