Susan Savage

Susan Savage 2013

Professor of Art
Phone: (805) 565-6126
Office Location: ADM 228A

Office Hours
Fall 2013
M,W 9:00-10:30
T,Th 10:00-12:00

Painting, Drawing, Collage


Savage image 1Savage image 2Savage image 3 Passage Inside Out

Artist’s Statement

A basic tenet of the creative process is transformation: the altering of reality so that the
artist’ expression can exist as something new altogether. I believe that one of the essential
functions of art is to make the familiar appear somehow unfamiliar, to make reality a
little strange. As a painter I am attracted to common objects and the stories their visual
relationships can tell. Through the process of studying objects and contemplating the
potential found in their relationships, I have come to appreciate the fact that objects
themselves have the power to absorb and reveal both human and divine demeanor. I like
that connection.

I am attracted to the mystery and transformative power of metaphor. In my early
investigations my attention was primarily focused on the beautiful elegance and refined
delicacy of a simple silver bowl and the stories its attributes can convey. The bowl intrigues
me as a stimulating, playful, and technically challenging subject to paint. Unpretentious
in design, yet complex in its fascinating visual surface, I appreciate its historical tradition
as well as its innate symbolic evocation of purity, refinement, and redemption. Often
given as a trophy or prize for a notable accomplishment, the physical existence of this
vessel has been tempered by fire, and through that ordeal stands redeemed. As I gaze at
this vessel I see these distinctive physical and symbolic qualities as a compelling parallel
to the characteristics of Christian faith. The attributes of both are eternal and enduring,
mysterious and profound, joyful and abiding. The essence of this vessel is its openness. It
waits to be used, and at times seems to be filled with a distinct but indefinable presence.

The dignity and transcendence of such beauty has become a driving motivation in my
current endeavors. I seek the still life not only for the familiarity of its forms, but to elevate
the humble, and to find the infinite in the ordinary. Clear vessels, fabric, paper, ribbon,
silver spheres, and simple objects of nature not only intrigue me as technically challenging
subjects to paint, but I see them as consecrated objects. By elevating each of these forms to
a place of intellectual contemplation I am motivated by the mystery of what is yet to be. As I
work I attempt to portray something that isn’t visibly in place but can become evident if one
takes the time to ponder the relationships that are presented.

As a source for the sacred my images are intended for divine questions. This concept is one
of incarnation. I also see my images as devotions, where silence, solitude and simplicity
work together to reveal something mysterious and something significant about the
relationships presented. By lifting the commonplace to a state of contemplation I venture
into that strange space where ultimately the viewer is invited to pause and think about
what an image conveys rather than complacently accept what is visually offered as familiar
or expected. My images reproduce the look of the visible world, but simultaneously offer
something beyond mere physical appearances in revealing something greater, something
deeper. I believe these images tap into everyone’s spiritual realm in some way. I like to
think that they are reminders of what we already know, but because the familiar is now
somehow unfamiliar we pause as we are brought into the realm of transcendence, to the
realm of revelation, even if there is no verbal explanation for them.


  • M.F.A University of California, Santa Barbara, 1979
  • B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara, 1970

Selected Professional Positions

  • Professor of Art, Westmont College, 2009-present
  • Associate Professor of Art, Westmont College, 2003-2009
  • Assistant Professor of Art, Westmont College, 1995-2003
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art, Westmont College, 1991-1995
  • Instructor of Arts and Crafts, Santa Barbara City College, 1986-1995
  • Instructor of Art, La Colina Junior High, Santa Barbara, 1970-1979

Selected Shows and Exhibitions

  • Invitational: The Last Word, Pacific Theatre, Hollywood, CA, 2012
  • Invitational: One Night Stand, Brooks Institute Gallery 27, Santa Barbara, CA, 2011
  • Invitational: 100 Grand, Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 2011
  • Invitational: Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 2010
  • Juried Exhibition: Faith As Art: Art As Faith, Brandenburg Galleries- Olivet Nazarene University
    Bourbonnaise, IL, 2010
  • Solo Exhibition: “Confluence”, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA, 2010
  • Group Invitational: Collage: 5 Artists, Santa Barbara Tennis Club, Santa Barbara, CA, 2010
  • Group Invitational Exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Sales and Rental Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2006
  • Invitational Exhibition: Wish You Were Here, Postcard Auction Santa Barbara Arts Fund Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 2006
  • Solo Exhibition: “Silent Dialogue”, Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 2005
  • Faculty Show: The Fine Art of Education, Westmont College Reynolds Gallery, 2005
  • Solo exhibition: Bearing Witness, Westmont College Reynolds Gallery, 2004
  • Invitational: Santa Barbara Collage and Assemblage Fielding Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, 2003
  • “Focused on the Forum”, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, 2003
  • Juried Exhibition: Santa Barbara Artwalk Festival Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, CA, 2002
  • Juried Invitational: “Collage/Assemblage/USA”, New Media Gallery, Ventura College, Ventura, CA, 2001
  • Invitational: “Room With A View II”, 30 Arlington Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 2000
  • Inviational: “Room With A View”, 30 Arlington Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 1999
  • “The Paint, Pastel and Collage of Summertime: Savage, Strasburg and Walker”, Frame, Santa Barbara, CA, 1999
  • Juried Show: Small Images #2, Ventura City College, Ventura, CA, 1999
  • Invitational Show: “Art From the Heart,” Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA, 1999
  • “Women Beyond Borders,” benefit exhibition, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA, 1999
  • Invitational Show: Chair-ity, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA, 1998
  • Invitational Shows: Cup Show, 1997, Shoe Show, 1998, Art of Dining, 1999, Westmont College Reynolds Gallery
  • Juried Show: Small Images, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • Faculty Exhibit: Westmont College Reynolds Gallery, Danica House, Santa Barbara, CA, 1995, 1997, 1998,
  • Faculty Exhibit, Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, CA, 1990
  • Elizabeth Fortner Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA, 1981
  • Stewart Street Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 1979
  • Santa Barbara Art Association, Santa Barbara, CA, 1972

Selected Publications

  • CIVA Sourcebook 2011
  • Seasons of the Spirit Quarterly, ”Behold: Arts for the Church Year,” 2009-2010
  • Comment Magazine “Common Objects: Susan Savage Painter”, 2008
  • CIVA “Images of Faith” CD, Calvin Institute of Worship, Art in America, Guide to Artists and Galleries, 2007-2008
  • Susan Savage Bearing Witness Exhibition catalog, 2004
  • Coastal Women magazine, Winter 2004
  • Santa Barbara Studio Artist’s Directory, Santa Barbara Studio Artists, 2003
  • “The Art of the Dot,” Paschal and Anderson, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985.
  • Buyer’s Guide to Contemporary Crafts, American Crafts Enterprises, 1982-84.
  • Fiber Arts Magazine, May/June 1984