Susan Oliver Fennell

In my early years, I was exposed to people who worked by hand: farmers, day laborers and craftspeople like potters, carpenters, dyers and weavers. These people, from that time, through childhood and adolescence in Kagoshima, Japan, made a strong and lasting impression.

Many years later, I studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Meredith College. I’ve taught Japanese language in the North Carolina public schools and given workshops in Shibori and indigo dyeing also in North Carolina. My work is influenced by both east and west and attempts to reconcile their seemingly opposite characteristics. So each piece is more than an exercise in color, dye or pattern.

Identity, memory, language and home are some elements that play a part in these creations. While the process is exploration, it’s also connection and engagement with my other home.

Tōryanse is based on a fragment of memory. It’s a song and game played in childhood with neighborhood friends in Japan. It was made with cloth strips dyed in indigo that I felt reflected time passage and landscape, aspects of the memory landscape. I see it as a three-dimensional book.