While pursuing a degree in molecular biology and master’s in biomedical communications, Sue Benner transformed her vision of the microscopic universe into batiked quilts, soft sculpture, and paintings. These early efforts drew her to a new path, and by 1980 Sue was working full time as a studio artist in Dallas, Texas, primarily in the medium which later became known as the Art Quilt.
Sue is a recognized innovator in her field, having developed new techniques in fused quilt construction to further the expression of her ideas. She creates her richly layered quilt canvases by collaging her dye-painted and printed silks with found fabrics that she rescues from the obscurity of attics and thrift stores.
Sue is also well known as an educator, lecturing and teaching workshops internationally in the areas of surface design, textile collage, fused quilt construction, and artistic inspiration. Her work is represented by galleries and dealers around the country. Most recently she completed several commissioned works for a hospital in Minnesota and has been commissioned to make an art quilt for BNSF Railways. Exhibiting widely for thirty years, her work has been juried into Quilt National seven times. Sue’s artwork is in many private, corporate, and institutional collections including the National Quilt Museum and the International Quilt Study Center, the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art, the Neville Public Museum, and the National Quilt Museum. Recently she curated the exhibition, Quilts: The New Geometry, for the MADI Museum in Dallas, Texas. She has served as a juror for both Quilt National and Quilt Visions.
“The act of creating is a fascinating process of choice and discovery. The work has taught me to respect intuition, persistence, and the happy accident.
Being born into a time of Abstract Expressionism, I absorbed that “ism” as a fact of life, later translating this into the dyeing and painting of fabric. Matisse and Rauschenberg were my guides to cutting and combining of these fabrics, as well as the enduring history of American quilts. My mother taught me to sew carefully, and helped me make my first quilt at the age of ten.
Workshop: Sewing the Land
5-Day or 7-Day workshop is available!
SEWING MACHINE USED? Optional—most people do not use their machine.
DESCRIPTION: Each participant will create one or two landscape quilts along with several small studies. The class will study different approaches to representing landscape, including those of artists in a variety of media. Sue will then show students how to look at the landscape, analyze it, and translate it to fabric using several fused construction methods to help them each accomplish their goals. For those that are taking this workshop for the second time, a more ambitious project can be pursued.
Sue began making landscape images from raw edges, selvedges, and other odds and ends from scrap bags. From there she has gone on to add other techniques and develop a large series of work inspired by wetlands and prairies in her childhood home state of Wisconsin.
Previous students of this class have told Sue that this changed the way they saw the land.