By Angela Romeo

When I came across Suzanne Ross’s work I was taken back.  The first piece I purchased was a mixed media burka. It was art most powerful. The faceless figure: beautiful, imposing, fragile and silent, staring out from its place on the wall asking more questions than I could answer. A few years later, another of Suzanne’s burka pieces crossed my path. The Blue Burka was no less haunting and beautiful. I took it home.  I had to know more about this artist.

Meet Suzanne Ross.

She was born in Niagara Falls NY. She earned her degree at Empire College and University of Buffalo. She moved to New York City. There she attended Pratt Graphic Arts Center, The New School, The School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League.

In the 1980’s Suzanne founded peopleart/bflo Gallery Arts Center in Buffalo, New York. In the 1990’s, after leaving the snow for Los Angeles, Suzanne began creating paper sculpture. Moving to the Wonder Valley in the early 2000’s she continued perfecting her unique paper and fiber technique.

Suzanne has spent over 20 years developing her process. “My process is a water vacuum treatment that condenses pulp to a manageable stage so it can be created into an abstract or suggestively realistic form and left to dry and harden revealing underlying textures. The work is often adorned with the addition of found objects or other cast out embellishments.” Her work is subtle provocation.

suzanne-ross-unnamedIn commenting about her burka series Suzanne stated, “The intent of my handmade fiber and mixed media works is to reflect my emotional reaction to the power of control which is insinuated in a burka. In that series I am that woman inside looking out.  I identify personally and psychologically with an emotional reaction to the veil’s stressful isolation and confinement from the rest of the world. I am that woman looking out I am effected by the religious treatment imposed on unwilling women around the world, that reinforces their inferior social status.”

Suzanne’s work, in whatever medium she chooses has an edge of defiant beauty. Looking away is not an option. She is curating Nasty Woman, an exhibition for Gallery 62 in Joshua Tree, which will run from May 5th to May 29th. The opening reception is May 13th. The Beatnik Lounge Gallery will also have a Nasty Woman theme in a special cooperation between the two galleries. “The show will include 25 artists from the upper desert expressing their interpretation in all forms of media -most works approximately 20″ in width.  The particular piece that I will exhibit is a profile and bust portion of a burka with orange dyed fiber, blue pastel areas and various rusted hinges, latches, and melted metal found in the desert and attached to the front. The heavy objects suggest confinement and smothering. The texture is rough and linear reflecting an uncomfortable surface.”

“The show is an opportunity for 25 artists with frustrations to speak out artistically. I feel my Burkas do that for me and always have. The motivations for my Burka venting are still there, probably more than ever. I like the way the Burka visuals effect people. From what I have heard from people’s comments, hopefully the venting can be shared, and passed on at least enough to cause some sort of action to relieve the feeling of despair.”

Suzanne is also “Artistic Expressions of the Coachella Valley” Exhibit. This is a collaboration between Palm Springs Art Museum Artists Council and UCR Palm Desert Center at UCR Palm Desert Center, runs through April 23rd.