by Debra Claffey
I recently had a chance to sit down with Susan Rock, a long-time member of WCA/NH, at her home in Bow, NH. It was a wet and snowy day, but I could see the winter bones of her gardens as I entered. I’m a professional gardener when I’m not painting, and I could see that Rock’s talents run deep and wide. We talked about all the ways an artistic vocation can express itself. She feels that all of her interests feed her art-making. She especially loves painting the forms, textures and colors of flowers.
We talked over tea about our crazy zigzag paths to and from art. Susan Rock came to art-making while maintaining a career in nursing. She always thought of her sewing as play. Her aunt was a milliner and Susan loved watching her work.
She took a job at a needlework shop and later became Maderia USA’s Technical Sewing Director, traveling to retail shops all over the country and teaching fiber techniques. She has written Teach Yourself Machine Embroidery which has sold more than ten thousand copies.
As with so many women who wear a multitude of “hats” (family, community, arts, etc.), we often undervalue our contributions to each area of endeavor. Susan decided about ten years ago that she was indeed a professional artist. Here’s how it became clear. She had visited New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help in any way she could. It affected “her more than she knew” and realized then that the events gave rise to a voice, with specific ideas, that had to be expressed. The ideas percolated for more than a year and while she was working on some pieces that dealt with the idea of devastation, “something else came out of me” and she began work on a series that centered on that intense experience in New Orleans. It resulted in an exhibition, titled Katrina and All that Jazz, that is currently at the Red Cross in Concord, NH.
Rock uses whatever medium is appropriate to her concerns. A recent series of watercolors are on exhibit at Syd’s in Keene. She also offers private classes in fiber art techniques in her home studio in Bow. As a member of WCA/NH, Rock contributes time and energy to our exhibitions and projects, helping other artists find their voice.