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Artist profile: Susan Lee Stephen

This Newfoundland artist uses a range of materials to craft her unique pieces

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With a background in textiles, jewellery and industrial welding, Susan Lee Stephen is an artist based in St. John’s, N.L. She creates unique artworks out of a variety of materials.

While jewellery is her main focus, her sculptural work goes beyond simple adornment. Made of metals, textiles and semi-precious stones, the pieces are meant for displaying in the home and often include jewellery. “Jewellery is often thought of as frivolous, but I like to turn it into something that has a deeper message,” Stephen says.

For a recent group exhibition at the Craft Council Gallery in St. John’s, her work included intricate sculptures, mobiles and shadow boxes. Her pieces explored human and animal interactions. “We often label animals with negative terminology that reflects and perpetuates attitudes we’ve adopted,” she says. “The seal is just being a seal but it gets labelled “greedy” because it has encroached our territory. But in fact, we have encroached its environment.”

Inspired by the idea of change in the natural world, Stephen creates silhouetted images of animals and plants that depict fleeting moments frozen in time. “Because change happens so incrementally in the natural world, we tend to see it as unchanging and static,” she says. “But every living thing is evolving in its own space and time, in reaction to the forces around it.”

“Greedy” Seal by Susan Lee Stephen, sterling silver, bronze and copper photo-etched, pierced and riveted.

“Greedy” Seal by Susan Lee Stephen, sterling silver, bronze and copper photo-etched, pierced and riveted.

Currently, she is having fun exploring new art forms. “I’ve embraced printmaking as a hobby,” she says. “I love that each image can express a different mood depending on how you ink the plate.”

www.susanleestudios.com

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