While living in Chicago for many years, Susan Mart, of Northbrook, found a passion for art and its ability to transcend borders both literally and figuratively. Finding inspiration for her work through critiques offered in art classes and in traveling the world equipped her with the tools necessary to take the art world by storm, hitting a stride in 2015 and showcasing her work at the Northbrook Public Library’s annual Northbrook Originals Juried Art Show.
“My husband travels quite a bit,” she said. “He works trade shows in different parts of the country. If possible, I travel with him. I take many photographs and from those photographs, I use that as my source material.”
At the Northbrook juried art show, Mart displayed “Gatherings,” a work that features colored pencil drawings on construction paper.
“It’s always a wonderful opportunity to have my works seen by jurors,” she said. “Often artists are working alone. This was a good chance to receive feedback good or bad.”
Mart’s art portfolio holds a number of works ranging in style and form from color pencil drawings to mixed media.
The annual juried art show at the Northbrook Public Library was not the first time Mart displayed her creations for others to view. Mart said she’s had many one-person shows at Artists, Residents of Chicago, a women’s co-op gallery. She added that she’s always looking for new venues to display her work.
In 2014, her work was featured in a two-person show at the Quad City Arts Showcase. Knowing that Rock Island is her hometown created added meaning for displaying her work there.
“That was exciting,” she said. “That was the third time (showcasing my work there). It’s always nice to have it there because that’s where my family lives.”
Mart began pursuing a career path in the arts about 30 years ago. After high school, she attended college at the Art Institute of Chicago majoring in art before taking time off. She would go back to college years later on a part-time basis, allowing her to graduate with the class of 1991.
Mart said for a period of time, she recalls having taken private art classes lead by George Buehr, a former teacher at the Art Institute. She credits him as being one of her inspirations.
“He was a very gentle, kind person,” she said. “He had critique groups. He had big name artists from the city that he knew come in. It was so exciting.”
In response to where her passion for art is taking her now, Mart said she has a piece that will be on display at the Northbrook Public Library Northbrook Originals Juried Art Show. There will be a reception on Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m. The selected works will remain on display at the library until May 31.
Over the last 30 years, Mart said she has gained one major takeaway that helps keep her motivated in working as an artist.
“You have to just say you’re an artist,” she said. “Tell your family that you’re an artist. And if you say that you’re an artist, then you are.”
There are challenges working as an artist in today’s world and Mart know this all too well. She said creating work on a commission basis is not always satisfying for the artist when clients interfere with the creative process that is making art but if you persevere, you can get through it.
“As an artist, you can’t be too upset about these things,” she said. “It’ll wear you down. Commissions are not what I want. I do my work and if they like it, it’s done.”
About 10 years ago, Mart said the state purchased an original piece of her work featured in her collection, “From the Works of a Permanent Collection.”
She said it meant a lot being able to feature her work in a state gallery.
When asked if she would ever considering changing her line of work, Mart negated the idea.
“There’s something about artists,” she said. “They just have do it. If not physically drawing or taking pictures, part of me is unhappy when I’m not able to do something.”