The news of artist, environmental activist, documentary film producer and philanthropist Susan Swartz.

Susan Swartz Featured in Tasting Kitchen Magazine


cuadernosdefilosofia.comby Kate Nicholson

“BHUTAN,” says US-based painter Susan Swartz, “has long been a place of fascination for me.” The country, which is well-known for its dedication to preserving its wilderness, puts strict limits on tourist numbers, so Swartz was quick to snap up a chance to visit this last hidden Himalayan kingdom in September of 2014.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comThe scenes she encountered – regal forest-lined valleys and wild gorges crested with crenellated peaks – were far different from the familiar vistas surrounding Swartz’s home studios in Park City, Utah, and Martha’s Vineyard. “The mountains’ ruggedness was absolutely stunning,” she says, “especially when juxtaposed with the valleys’ calming waters and the multilayered greens of the fields. These are what exemplify the beauty and specialness of the Bhutanese landscape.”

cuadernosdefilosofia.comSwartz spent much of her time exploring the cliffside monasteries and hiking trails of the Phobjikha Valley and the historical sites of Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro. She found that her deeply held spirituality and passion for nature, expressed through her abstract canvases and her work as an environmental advocate, perfectly aligned with the country’s culture, values, and spectacular terrain.

Bhutan - Rice Fields and Prayer Flags , Acrylic on linen, 48x72” 2014

Bhutan - Rice Fields and Prayer Flags, Acrylic on linen, 48x72” 2014

When she returned home and sat down to translate onto canvas the feelings and mental images from her travels, it was the lushly green rice fields punctuated by flag-festooned bridges and temples that stood out in her memory. “It took me a couple of months to complete the five paintings in the series,” she says, “but I’d begun conceptualizing them from the moment I arrived back. I wanted to stay true to the colors and the landscape of Bhutan.”

cuadernosdefilosofia.comClassically trained in realist oil painting, Swartz today paints in acrylics that are applied to the canvas in multiple impasto layers to draw out the depth and richness of each particular hue. “Just as natural landscapes have their own unique contours and layers,” she says, “so have my paintings become heavily textured and sculptural.”

cuadernosdefilosofia.comHer evolution toward abstraction was influenced by her history of environmentally linked ailments, including the combined effects of mercury poisoning and Lyme disease that made her critically ill.

Susan Swartz in Bhutan, 2014

Susan Swartz in Bhutan, 2014

“I came so close to dying, but my reverence for the natural world and my painting kept me going,” she says. “Although my illnesses brought tremendous havoc to my body and spirit, they also shook me out of my comfort zone as an artist.” Today, her work is a reflection of both her joys and concerns regarding the environment. While constantly aspiring to distill the ever-regenerative potential of nature into her paintings, she also strives to raise awareness of its fragility.

Swartz found that visiting the pristine regions of Bhutan served to expand her horizons as an artist and also as a citizen of the world. Through her meditative depictions of Bhutanese rice paddies, she ultimately seeks to impassion her audience to serve as environmental stewards in their own backyards. “I hope viewers of my Bhutan series will see the vast expanses and richness of the country from a spiritual perspective, that they can pause their multitasking lives and appreciate the diverse beauty of our natural world.”

The complete Bhutan Series


cuadernosdefilosofia.comSusan Swartz Studios

260 Main Street Park City, UT



Over the past two decades, Susan Swartz’ work as an artist, philanthropist and documentary film producer has focused on changing the way people see the world around them. By shedding light on important issues such as the fragility of the natural world and social injustice, Susan hopes to shift thinking, inspire change and provide a message of hope.

The intersection of art and film is a natural connection for Susan. Susan is a founder of the documentary film organization , the Oscar and Emmy award winning production group renowned for igniting change through storytelling on pressing social issues. Investing with Impact Partners and directly, Susan has been involved with a long line of important environmental and social justice films.

Her decade-long battle with Lyme Disease and mercury poisoning transformed her as an artist and altered her life focus. These two environmentally-borne illnesses slowly paralyzed Susan until she was unable to hold a paint brush. Her struggle with Lyme Disease resulted in the pivotal, award-winning film Under Our Skin in 2008, which uncovers a natural world out of balance and a medical establishment that put profits before patients. As an Executive Producer of Mercury Rising, a companion short film to the Sundance hit and 2010 Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove, that tracked the secret butchering of dolphins in a rural Japanese beach community, The Cove: Mercury Rising explores the dangers of mercury contamination as it affects society and the global environment.  Susan has also sought to recognize the achievement of other women artists through the film !Women Art in 2010, where she served as an Executive Producer. The film reveals how the feminist art movement fused free speech and politics into work that radically changed the art and culture of our time. It was selected by MoMA as one of the best documentaries of 2011. Susan has partnered on a number of campaigns and films with environmental crusaders such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Louie Psihoyos and Dr. Jane Goodall, that seek to shed light on social and environmental injustice.

L-R: Environmental crusader Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Susan and Louie Psihoyos, Director of  The Cove .

L-R: Environmental crusader Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Susan and Louie Psihoyos, Director of The Cove.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comDuring her recovery from chronic disease, Susan’s art changed as dramatically as her lifestyle and outlook. She left the comforts of realism for increasingly abstract painting, working from a place of impassioned reverence for the earth, and a fierce determination to inform and educate about nature’s fragility.

“While my illnesses wreaked tremendous havoc on body and spirit, they also shook me out of my comfort level as an artist,” she says. “The art I am now creating is more impassioned, more profound, more achingly full of desire than anything I have created in the past.”

In the midst of her illness, Susan spent an entire year completing  Serenade of Lilies  (Acrylic on linen, 72x72” 2006). The abstract approach reveals a departure from the familiar, as she fought for the strength to paint.

In the midst of her illness, Susan spent an entire year completing Serenade of Lilies (Acrylic on linen, 72x72” 2006). The abstract approach reveals a departure from the familiar, as she fought for the strength to paint.

Susan serves on the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and passionately supports its "Women, Art and Social Change" initiative. By bringing to light remarkable women artists of the past while also promoting the best women artists working today, the Museum directly addresses the gender imbalance in the presentation of art in the U.S. and abroad, thus securing great women artists a place of honor in the history of art. Susan is a co-founder of charity-based which is now the largest center for social welfare and the largest food bank in the state of Utah. She became involved with the Harvard Divinity School (HDS) in 2005, when she was invited to become the School's artist-in-residence, exploring the intersection of spirituality and art. Her involvement continued over the years through service on the HDS Dean's Council. In 2012, Susan established the Susan Shallcross Swartz Endowment for Christian Studies which funds new professorships and supports fellowships and programming in the classroom and in the field around world religions.

Susan addressing the students and faculty at Harvard Divinity School.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comSusan addressing the students and faculty at Harvard Divinity School.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comArtists seek universal truths and help to form a community that responds to these truths and not to rhetoric. Susan’s canvases of the natural world remind us how we are all connected, dependent on each other and responsible for the stewardship of the natural world. Susan’s art, film and philanthropy provides a message of hope and highlights our interdependence as citizens in a global community."I’m often described as an environmental artist and that is an honor, but it is not a political stance for me. I seek to pay tribute to nature by painting the world as it is meant to be so that we are inspired to protect it and take care of it. I also have a dedication to support documentary filmmakers who are equally driven to tell their stories and share their message for the benefit of social change."

Susan is pleased to unite her interests in combining artistic expression with activism through the ART AND SOCIAL JUSTICE exhibition, on view at Susan Swartz Studios (260 Main Street, Park City) until February 2, 2020.



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Susan Swartz has been recognized with solo exhibitions at the Museum in Beijing, China in 2018; the in Davis, California in 2018; the in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2017; the in Budapest, Hungary in 2016; the in Koblenz, Germany in 2015; the Kollegienkirche cuadernosdefilosofia.comin Salzburg, Austria in 2014; the  in Washington, D.C in 2011; the  in Springville, Utah in 2010; and the  in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2008.

Her works are in the permanent collections of the ; the ; the ; the  in Lausanne, Switzerland; and in Beijing, China. Her paintings are also on display inside the United States Embassies in New Zealand, Hungary, and Beijing via the program.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comIn 2005, Susan was published in the Gibbs Smith collectors book . She was the Official Olympic Environmental Artist for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Susan paints from studios in Park City and Martha’s Vineyard.

A Look Back at Susan's Solo Exhibition at CAFA, Beijing - Oct 2018

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In a cultural twist to Throw Back Thursdays, a year ago today on October 10, 2018 we were celebrating a pre-opening reception at PACE Gallery Beijing for Susan’s show at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum in China (CAFA) that ran from October 11-November 4, 2018. 

cuadernosdefilosofia.comThe PACE Beijing reception featured works Susan would be premiering for the very first time the next day at CAFA, and was attended by influencers such as Chinese media mogul Lang Yan and representatives from the Utah Trade Mission to China including: Utah's Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes; Miles Hansen, CEO of Utah's World Trade Center; and Scott Anderson, President and CEO of Zions Bank. Dignitaries from the US Embassy in Beijing were also in attendance. 

cuadernosdefilosofia.comLast year Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert proclaimed October 11, 2018 Utah-China Cultural Friendship day. The announcement of Herbert's proclamation occurred in honor of the opening of Susan's solo exhibition at CAFA on October 11th.  Mary Anne Huntsman - pianist and daughter of the former Chinese Ambassador and Utah's former Governor, Jon Huntsman - performed a stunning recital at the opening with famed Chinese violinist Gao Can. The proclamation was read from the stage by Governor Herbert's son, Brad Herbert. An official with Zions Bank, Brad was there with the Utah Trade Mission and won over the crowd of Chinese art figures including CAFA's President Fan Di'an.

Susan pictured with curator Walter Smerling, Utah dignitaries, and CAFA staff

In the days that followed during her visit to China, Susan participated in a panel discussion for current students at CAFA entitled "Is Abstract Art Universal?" 

She was also honored at an October 12th luncheon with US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, where Scott Anderson gifted the US Embassy in China through the Art in Embassies program with one of Susan's paintings (Shimmering Light, Acrylic on linen, 48x48” 2016) on behalf of Zions Bank and the State of Utah. On a side note, Ambassador Bradstad was in Utah this summer for the Western Governors Association meetings and shared with an audience during a luncheon presentation that he adores Shimmering and hung it in his personal office so that he would be able to enjoy it daily.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comLast November we were pleased to be able to reciprocate in showing hospitality to the Chinese Embassy in DC by welcoming a delegation to Susan Swartz Studios for a tour and special luncheon. The Chinese delegation were in Utah to participate in the World Trade Center’s Utah Global Forum conference at the Grand America in Salt Lake City.  

cuadernosdefilosofia.comA year later we see much has transpired between the US and China from a trade perspective but the cultural ties between Utah and China remain with the Utah Museums paying tribute last winter to the Spike 150 Celebrations across the state. We hope art and culture can continue to provide a platform to encourage further dialogue and we were thrilled to play a part last year.  

Susan’s latest commission dedicated to zion national park

Last Saturday August 31st, Susan was honored to unveil one of her latest paintings, Zion’s Glow (72x72” acrylic on linen) at the Zion National Park Centennial Celebration. Commissioned by Zions Bank, the painting was dedicated at the VIP Dinner for the Utah Symphony concert featuring Sting.

Pictured (L-R): Susan Swartz, A. Scott Anderson, President & CEO of Zions Bank, Jim Swartz.

Pictured (L-R): Susan Swartz, A. Scott Anderson, President & CEO of Zions Bank, Jim Swartz.

Susan took the stage to present the work and convey some personal thoughts with the crowd:

It was truly an honor to be chosen as a Utah artist to create a work to commemorate Zion Park’s Centennial year. As an artist, I am inspired to paint what God has created. When I think of the incredible beauty from my many trips to Zion, I immediately conjure up images of its vibrant reds at sunset and sunrise. They are awe-inspiring and evidence of the true wonders of nature. It was in this vein that I wanted to capture the intensity of those reds in Zion’s Glow. It is my hope that Zion National Park and its Forever Foundation will enjoy it as much as I did creating it, as a tribute to such a special national treasure for which we are all here to celebrate."

Pictured (L-R) Photo 1: Jim and Susan Swartz, Congressman Ben McAdams, and Julie McAdams, and Byron Russell; Photo 2: Susan Swartz with Miles Hansen, President and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah, and Siena Hansen; Photo 3: Jim and Susan Swartz with Pat Mitchell and Scott Seydel; Photo 4 & 5: Susan speaks during the dedication of Zion’s Glow.

Read more about the benefit concert in our previous blog and in the .


Zion’s Glow , 2019. 72x72” acrylic on linen by Susan Swartz. Photo credit: Mark Maziarz.

Zion’s Glow, 2019. 72x72” acrylic on linen by Susan Swartz. Photo credit: Mark Maziarz.

Susan Swartz Studios is pleased to announce the upcoming dedication of Swartz’s latest commission, Zion’s Glow, a 72x72” acrylic on linen painting.  Commissioned by Zions Bank, this large-scale painting is a gift to Zion National Park in honor of its Centennial year. The official presentation will take place on Saturday, August 31st during a VIP dinner for guests of the Zion National Park Forever celebration. Guests of the VIP dinner will each receive a gift of Swartz’s award-winning book Natural Revelations. The evening will culminate with a benefit concert featuring legendary musician Sting with the Utah Symphony – together promoting stewardship for the park and celebrating its profound impacts.  

A. Scott Anderson, President and CEO of Zions Bank, will present the painting with co-host Kem C. Gardner, Chairman of the Gardner Company. Anderson remarked, "It is only fitting on the 100th anniversary of Zion National Park, to commemorate the event for the eternities with the presentation of Susan Swartz’s Zion’s Glow painting to Zion Park.  Susan is one of the world’s greatest painters, whose command of color and light and space has captured the very soul of this magnificent Park and the beauty and the magnificence of God’s creation. This painting, to hang in the Park, will inspire future visitors for its next 100 years.”

The August 31st event is both a celebration of Zion’s Centennial and part of a campaign to promote stewardship of the Park for the next century and beyond. With over 4.3 million visitors each year, Zion National Park is threatened by the impacts of visitation. The Zion Forever Project is an effort to build a new model for stewardship by encouraging all visitors to be “Keepers of the Sanctuary”. As an official nonprofit partner of Zion National Park, the project transforms visitors into more conscious stewards and builds support to preserve the monumental landscape – a source of inspiration for Swartz and countless other artists for future generations.

Zion’s Glow , 2019. 72x72” acrylic on linen by Susan Swartz. The large-scale commission was purchased by Zions Bank and will be dedicated to Zion National Park in celebration of its centennial year.

Zion’s Glow, 2019. 72x72” acrylic on linen by Susan Swartz. The large-scale commission was purchased by Zions Bank and will be dedicated to Zion National Park in celebration of its centennial year.

More information about the celebration is available in the and .

Susan Swartz featured at Melides Art, Portugal

Sandy Bowen, Geralyn Dreyfous, Miguel Carvalho, Susan Swartz, and Walter Smerling pictured at the Art Pavilion at Melides Art.

Sandy Bowen, Geralyn Dreyfous, Miguel Carvalho, Susan Swartz, and Walter Smerling pictured at the Art Pavilion at Melides Art.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comPortugal is having a moment.  Since 2014 the country has been flourishing. It transcended tough economic times and now enjoys booming tourism, a recent cultural and culinary renaissance and an attractive political climate, drawing visitors there from around the world.  

With that vibrant setting as the backdrop, a visionary leader in Portugal's art/cultural ecosystem, Miguel Carvalho, has helped to fuel the nation's creative shift with his bold passion to bring together the best of art, architecture and design. The destination is Melides, one of the most beautiful places in Portugal where he's transforming a remote former eucalyptus farm over an hour from Lisbon into an artistic epicenter for art and design devotees called Melides Art. 

From its website, it's accurately described as a place “where art meets nature, a place where you can experience the powerful alchemy of art and nature in the wildly beautiful, utterly inspiring and glorious surroundings of the Alentejo coastal region. Set amidst a contemporary art park, thus providing a truly unique lifestyle concept, this residential project and art community is designed to be an innovative, creative, and international platform for some of the world’s most talented living modern artists.”

Artist Susan Swartz was honored to be invited as one of five exhibiting visual artists to participate in the groundbreaking kick off of the new Melides Art Pavilion designed by James Waterworth, SOHO House's former European Design Director.  The exclusive invite only launch took place on May 18 to coincide with Lisbon's prestigious annual contemporary Art Fair, ARCO 2019 which took place May 15 - 19. ARCO boasts an interesting mix of Portuguese and international artists drawing leaders in the European art world, writers, photographers and critics there to take part.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comMelides Art held a progressive opening encompassing several successive events in one robust evening. It started with a sunset gathering at the new Art Pavilion to see the sculptures of Brooklyn artist Aaron King and a triptych by Susan Swartz entitled Natural Flux 101, 102 and 103.  

The crowd then made their way to Studio 6 for dinner and a chance to preview more works by Aaron King and artists Johannes Vanderbeek, Anabela Soares and Stephen G. Rhodes. After dinner the group was treated to a live art installation performance by artist Tony Cassanelli and the soulful gospel collective choir of Mozambique Khanimambo led by Selma Uamusse who urged the crowd to consider helping the flood victims of Mozambique.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comThe choir ensemble then led the crowd in a singing procession into Studio 4 to enjoy the installation of 40 original paintings by Susan Swartz and a concert by world class pianist Joao Ventura who performed the original music composition of Susan's art installation video Preserving Grace on a baby grand while the video was projected onto a 30 foot outdoor screen under the nearly full moon..

Portugal's beloved singer Jon Luz then surprised the crowd with a private concert at the end of the evening. All who were there gathered around the piano in delight to hear Luz accompanied by Joao Ventura collaboratively spark their creative magic. It was an ethereal experience and a beautiful moment in time set against the stunning landscape of Susan Swartz’s exhibition. 

We are pleased to share highlights of Susan's exhibition and her epic week in Portugal.

Read more about the bustling community at Melides Art in the , , and in the forthcoming edition of .

Opening of "Personal Path" Provides a Forum for Cross-Cultural Exchange

Ambassador Jon Huntsman; Susan Swartz; former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder; Mikhail Shvydkoy

Ambassador Jon Huntsman; Susan Swartz; former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder; Mikhail Shvydkoy

cuadernosdefilosofia.comCultural exchange is the balm for today’s tense political climate, and art is the universal language that can initiate the dialogue.  In today’s tense political climate, the most important thing to support is cultural exchange.  Art, as US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman affirms, “transcends us all.  It transcends borders, boundaries.”  Susan Swartz’s exhibition “Personal Path,” which opened Tuesday, November 28th at the State Russian Museum, transcends boundaries, creating a dialogue between the United States and Russia.  For the first time in five years an American artist is exhibiting work at a Russian museum. 

cuadernosdefilosofia.comSpecial Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy, former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder, and US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman spoke at the opening of “Personal Path.”  In their respective speeches, each official discussed the importance of art in maintaining relationships and encouraging conversation between countries.

In his opening remarks, former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder said: “Art is something people understand.  Art and culture can help build friends…today’s exhibition is one of the steps to a stable and peaceful world because artists understand people and unite us.  Susan shows us how fragile nature is and how beautiful it is and how we need to take care of it [sic].  She shows us how it is important to be creative.  Through her painting she makes the world a better place…she helps us to understand there are more things that unite us instead of separate us.”

Gerhard Schröder and Susan Swartz

Gerhard Schröder and Susan Swartz

Susan Swartz brings color and the feeling of Spring to St. Petersburg, Russia, encouraging dialogue and ensuring that cultural exchanges continue.  With “Personal Path” Susan Swartz has become an international symbol for unity.

Visual Mapping of the Soul

The Bonn based Foundation for Art and Culture is presenting works by Susan Swartz in the Marble Palace of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg

Artist Susan Swartz in front of her artwork at the Ludwig Museum at the State Russian Museum

Artist Susan Swartz in front of her artwork at the Ludwig Museum at the State Russian Museum

Bonn/St. Petersburg, 27.11.17. After Salzburg, Koblenz and Budapest, St. Petersburg is now the fourth European location in which the American artist is staging her solo exhibition "Personal Path". On view until January 29, 2018 in the State Russian Museum are 113 of her paintings.

Susan Swartz has dedicated herself to one of the timeless themes in the history of art: the ambivalent relationship between nature and painting. Steeped in the tradition of American historical landscape
painting, her pictures are all rooted in her perception of the natural world, which she abstracts in her
works, and to which she has developed a profoundly personal, even spiritual, affinity. "These
paintings", observes Alexander Borovsky in his catalogue essay, "are intended to evoke on our retinas 1 scents, noises or even the rays of sunlight shimmering through the trees. If that does not sound

altogether abstract, then this is because Swartz’s abstractions are truly extraordinary. They are closely bound to the senses, full of familiar optical, tactile and even acoustic elements." Curator Dieter Ronte has described the work of Susan Swartz as the “visual mapping of her own soul".

cuadernosdefilosofia.comThe exhibition is being inaugurated by the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the new US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman. Also scheduled to attend the inauguration is Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for international cooperation in culture.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comWith the project "Susan Swartz – Personal Path", the Foundation for Art and Culture is continuing to nurture one of its principal objectives, namely fostering intercultural dialogue, at a time and place in which the political situation serves to highlight the need for cultural bridges.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comAccompanying the exhibition is a catalogue featuring contributions by Alexander Borovsky (Head of the Department of Contemporary Art at the State Russian Museum), Dieter Ronte (curator of the exhibition) and Walter Smerling (Chairman of the Foundation for Art and Culture, Bonn).

courtesy of Stiftung für Kunst und Kultur e.V. (Foundation for Art and Culture), Bonn, Germany