Mixed media artist Susan Togut shares a selection of environmental installations and gallery works inspired by the cycles of nature—life, renewal and ascension. Learn more about her work on her website.
The unknown in creativity is magical and welcomed while uncertainty in life is often fearful and unsettling. Art lends beauty, meaning and illumination. It helps us positively transform life’s challenges during highly stressed times.
Art is my life-force, inspired by nature. My journey unfolds like moving waves, shaped by shifting boundaries in harmonic order. As a long-time public and gallery artist, educator and art therapist, I believe that creative dimensions inform each other. I integrate personal perspectives with worldly concerns as each experience forms the boundaries of the next and then, the next.
Drawn to art from early childhood, my career developed through a fine arts education in the form of an MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Over many years, I’ve balanced my artistic evolution while orchestrating individual and community revitalization programs and collaborative public art. This work occurs in educational, community and healthcare settings with people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, disabilities and illnesses.
My self-created public art and gallery works embody transformative states including life, death, regeneration, metamorphosis and ascension. Outdoors, I create contemplative and immersive environments that are site-specific and change over time. Some interact with waterways.
Indoors, I create installations, sculptures, dimensional wall pieces and paintings. Embracing change, transforming uncertainty, propagating renewal through reciprocity and collaboration, joining fragility with strength, are underlying philosophic ideas.
I study nature’s changing states as symbolized in the fluidity of water, shifting skyscapes and ephemeral wings. At times, ecological, social justice and other concerns emerge.
Interweaving varied dimensions, I explore ideas and approaches in series. I experiment with diverse materials, techniques, content and symbolism. I discover beautiful, content-rich elements in nature, as well as recycle bins, including beehives, bird nests, branches, vines, rusted steel and broken glass.
Public art combines the stability and resilience of trees and natural elements with the fragility and changeability of hand-painted, illuminated panels, activated by shifting sun, wind or indoor lighting.
Sculptures that reflect nature’s cycles include ephemeral natural and man-made elements like milkweed and glass. Wall pieces with wings coming oﬀ surfaces symbolize ascending energy of loved ones and their descending guidance and protection. Wall pieces with illuminated layers in shadow boxes have holographic eﬀects. All of these works embrace uncertainty as fragility transforms into strength and resilience.
During the pandemic and emergent periods, I created diverse indoor and outdoor works. These include mobiles with beehives, nests and glass, intimate sculptures with birds and mixed-media totems. A trail environment I installed in Voorheesville, New York is renewed and expanded each year. I will be placing multiple installations along the eight-mile Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Lloyd, New York. These highly trafficked trail environments combine natural elements with painted, stained glass components.
The magical unknown of creativity promotes individual realignment of inner lives to achieve greater engagement, perspective and growth. Simultaneously, creativity contributes to community health, stability and vitality. As with the shaping of waves, I envision successive, upward transformations to achieve expansion and spiritual ascension for individuals and societies.
Artist Susan Togut invites you to follow her on Instagram.