Susan Barron was born and grew up north of Chicago. She received childhood training in music; graduated from the University of Illinois (Urbana) in pre-medicine; completed advanced degrees in clinical diagnostic chemistry; resumed musical studies and was serendipitously introduced to visual arts by photographer Art Sinsabaugh; lived and photographed in Europe for four years before relocating to New York City in 1974; worked in the field of clinical chemistry until 1994 in order not to compromise art work; now devoting all time to art, making collages, drawings, etchings and other ink prints, as well as photographs. Despite its medieval tendencies, Barron’s work is listed in both editions (1993 & 2000) of A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes.
Barron’s work is included in the permanent collections of the following museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Victoria & Albert Museum; Museum of Modern Art; The Fitzwilliam Museum; The Jewish Museum; The Getty Center & Museum; Altes Museum of Berlin; Detroit Institute of Art; The Israel Museum and Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum. Her work has also been acquired by rare book repositories at the New York Public Library; The Rosenwald Collection at The Library of Congress; The Newberry Library of Chicago; The Royal Library of the Netherlands; Bibliothèque Nationale of France; Princeton University Library and The Pierpont Morgan Library, as well as countless university rare book libraries and Special Collections around the world. Private collectors include Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon and Ruth & Marvin Sackner in the U. S., and André Jammes in Paris.
Solo exhibits have been presented in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Northampton, London, Cologne and Paris. Group shows include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Israel Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New Britain Museum of Art, The Dual Muse, Washington University Art Museum (St. Louis), and The Next Word at the Newberger Museum. Portfolios have been published in Camera, Creative Camera, and Aperture. A Dreyfuss Fellowship recipient at The MacDowell Colony, Barron also received a year-long artist-in-residence fellowship in Israel. She received Artist’s Grants from the New York State Council on the Arts (Photography), The Polaroid Corporation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (Works on Paper).
A monograph entitled ANOTHER SONG was published in 1981. The limited-edition, hand-made volume contains forty original photographs tipped into an elegant binding. The work inspired a poem by John Cage, which was written especially for this sequence of pictures. The book was shown at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and twice at both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Israel Museum. It was also featured in the Art Journal’s issue on ‘Artists and Writers: Collaborations of the 20th Century’. Complete wall exhibitions of ANOTHER SONG have taken place at the University of Illinois Krannert Art Museum, University of Iowa Museum of Art, Drexel University, The Southeast Museum of Photography, St. Louis Center for Contemporary Arts, Smith College, and Printworks Gallery, Chicago, her first non-museum show in eighteen years.
LABYRINTH OF TIME, her fifth book, was completed after a nine-year evolution. The eleven, full leather bound, conventional-looking volumes contain seventy-seven works on paper that open up and unfold to one hundred and fifty-two feet during exhibition. Specially designed cases with fiber-optic lighting display each outstretched volume. All her books contain the originals, not printed reproductions, allowing the viewer to maintain an authentic encounter during the course of reading. The manuscript premiered as a solo exhibition at the Newberry Library of Chicago, traveling on to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. LABYRINTH OF TIME has been met with an enthusiastic critical response in all venues. An academic tour is being planned.
Other major book works include TWISTING SILENCE, MIRROR (her poem transcribed into Braille), JAMAICA MISTAKE (seven drawings and seven poems embedded in the officially recognized urtext of Creation’s seven days) which she is currently adapting for the operatic stage. Others include SENZA ANCORA, EXPE, and CASTING MEMORY, a girdle book, the text of which is scribed onto windowpane vellum in a variant of a 6th century Insular script. The binding is made out of the artist’s own hip bone. She is currently working on a deck of cards and a classic Roman alphabet. Barron works from a studio in Brooklyn. To arrange an appointment to view original works, refer to the contact page.
An archive of the artist’s papers has been established at the Newberry Library of Chicago.