Susan Pelham is a painter from Monroe, Georgia, with more than 50 years of professional experience. She graduated with a degree in Fine Art and Art History from Florida State University in 1963. As an undergraduate, she developed an interest in color theory and composition that continues to inform her work.
Most recently, Susan's interest has shifted from painting primarily in oils to exploring mixed media collage. Her collages deploy themes from Renaissance painting to 20th-century folk art, but always with playful visual puns. Of her current work Susan says:
“When I was a student at FSU in the early 60s, the magical realism of 1940s painting intrigued me. I liked the work of Cadmus, Tooke, Albright, and Hopper. Only recently while exploring collage, and thinking about the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and Franz Kafka, have I begun to explore magical realism in my own work. I enjoy referencing literature in my collages. Often nursery rhymes, haiku, limericks, and children’s camp songs inspire the subject of a collage. I like hiding little jokes in the composition. I have fun with my work as I am creating it, and I hope other people have fun looking at it.”
Susan is a renowned painter, winning prizes in almost every show she enters. One of her first awards was right after college, when the Sears Southeast Traveling Exhibit chose her oil painting, “Cat,” to become part of a touring exhibition that crossed the southeast, with the High Museum in Atlanta as a final destination. Susan’s work, “The Politician’s Wife,” is part of the permanent collection of the LeMoyne Museum in Tallahassee, Florida. She has been invited to exhibit one-woman shows from Bainbridge, Georgia, to Emory University, to The Steffen Thomas Museum, and other venues in Athens, Georgia.
One of her most memorable accomplishments is a commission by the Barkley Forum of Emory University to paint the portrait of Congressman John Lewis, who was the recipient of the Glenn Pelham Foundation for Debate Education Award for Responsible Speech. Susan was honored to personally present her portrait to the statesman and civil rights activist. Congressman Lewis was surprised and touched to be presented with a gift and gracious in his praise of the portrait.
Susan currently teaches painting in Monroe and Madison, Georgia, and has an upcoming exhibit at Heirloom in Athens, Georgia, on Chase Street. In addition to teaching and exhibiting, she accepts portrait and landscape commissions.