Susan Hensel received her BFA from University of Michigan in 1972 with a double major in painting and sculpture and a concentration in ceramics.
With a history, to date, of over 200 exhibitions, 25 of them solo, twenty garnering awards, Hensel's desire to communicate stories through art continues to be a powerful motivator.
Hensel's artwork is known and collected nationwide, represented in collecting libraries and museums as disparate as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Getty Research Institute with major holdings at Minnesota Center for Book Arts , University of Washington, Baylor University and University of Colorado at Boulder. Archives pertaining to her artists books will be available for study at the University of Washington Libraries in Seattle in 2017.
In recent years Hensel has been awarded multiple grants and residencies through the Jerome Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, and Ragdale Foundation.
Hensel's curatorial work began in 2000 in East Lansing, Michigan with the Art Apartment and deepened with ownership of the Susan Hensel Gallery. Hensel has curated over seventy exhibitions of emerging and mid-career artists from all over the United States and Canada.
I am available for mentoring on a variety of subjects:
I am available for studio visits, lectures, panel discussions, and other visiting artist activities.
Previous engagements have included visits to Emory and Henry College, VA; Chadron State College, NE; Alma College,MI; Lansing State Library, MI; East Lansing Library, MI; Minnesota Center for Book Arts, MN;Hollanders, MI; Habitat for Humanity, MN; Las Vegas Civic Center, NV; Weavers Guild of Minnesota.
I am a multidisciplinary artist, with a 50 year career, who combines a mixed media practice with embroidery across digital and manual platforms.
At the heart of the current process is digital embroidery: designing in the computer and stitching out on a computer-aided machine. This is not new. It has long been used in the fashion and promotions industries. Digital machine embroidery is not a substitute for, nor a speedier version of, nor an imitator of handwork. It is a mindset and a media choice in and of itself.
As an artist I find it's beauty and structure is qualitatively unique. It deals in optical color perception, but provides a lenticular opportunity due to the tri-lobal structure of the thread and its ability to bend light. To quote Jane McKeating, "Color drips off the needle every bit as richly as from a brush."
Digital embroidery lends itself to hard edge geometry as well as biomorphic form. The combination of high tech with "women's work" provides a delicious contrast of hard/soft, nostalgic/current, objective/non-objective. It also lends itself to modular repetition and re-combinations. Themes can be played out quickly in the computer and then stitched and sampled oh so slowly on the machine; combined with and without mixed media in a wide-ranging exploration of forms in space.
In this chaotic time, digital textiles seem like a way to begin to bring order to the world. Order is, however, always unstable, a glimmer of a hope, cut off by random acts of chance or intent. It is no different in digital embroidery. In the computer, all things seem orderly, put together, and logical, as though the human propensity for chaos did not exist. In production, chance operates: human error, flawed thread, broken needles, run out bobbins, high humidity, low humidity, fabric popping out of hoops and the panicked phone call from a friend. Repair savvy, canny attention and a spirit of wabi sabi is essential.