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


cuadernosdefilosofia.comOver 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 Revolution 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 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.

Susan addressing the students and faculty at Harvard Divinity School.

Artists 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.

In 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.

Susan Swartz Descending Into a Rich Mash

With daylight savings suddenly behind us, the days of growing darkness are here. The paradox of light and shadow brings necessary balance, and not only in a painting. As an artist, Susan embraces this darkness as a ballast for the brightness of spring. And, she knows that in any season, the natural world offers both beauty and terror, both life and death, both light and dark, all combined in a rich mash. 

In this season of change, Susan is struck by the words of poet Mary Oliver:

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Thiel and Swartz: The Complexity of Nature Through Two Distinct Lenses

Susan’s most recent, increasingly abstract work will be on display in a new exhibition at London’s Belgravia Gallery, alongside renowned painter Leslie Thiel. While their subjects — landscape and horses, respectively — and their styles — abstract and realist — couldn’t be more distinct, both artists are moved by the natural world and express a fierce tenderness toward the earth’s fragility.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comLike Susan, is an internationally recognized painter, whose large-scale pieces appear in collections throughout the world. Her interest is not in capturing the mere surface of her equine subjects, but in conveying the inner light that emanates from within them. Her painstaking detail and exacting realism are the perfect foil to Susan’s luminous abstract forms.

The exhibition opens this week at  and tonight, Thursday, October 17, a private viewing will be available from 6 - 8 pm. Interested in attending? RSVP to

Susan Swartz Landscape of Resonances

Landscape of Resonances 003
48 x 48

In addition to her Water Study and Untitled series, Susan has been moving toward abstraction with a third painting series wholly distinct from the others. Now totaling six paintings in all, the Landscape of Resonances series takes the natural world and distills it to its essences: light, heat, form, color.

The series title is reminiscent of classical composer, Jeffrey Mumford’s recent composition, Landscape of Interior, which celebrates the vertical layers of sound within the piano. In a similar manner, Susan explores vertical layers of color in her new painting series.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comThe large-scale compositions in this series are rich and deeply saturated. They’re also highly textural, with one layer of paint reacting to or even commenting on the one that preceded it. The result is a series in which one painting builds on the next, like a progressive commentary on the natural world.

Susan Swartz Water Study 005

Water Study 005
48 x 48

The most recent painting in Susan’s abstract Water Study series, Water Study 005 cuadernosdefilosofia.compushes viewers out of their comfort zone and upends the color story we associate with water: clear blues and milky greens. Instead, Susan gives us the opposite end of the color spectrum—hues that could be interpreted as the last coral traces of a peaceful sunset reflected on the ocean, or as a corrosive, clogged and wholly unnatural waterway.

The Water Study series rethinks the complex relationship that Susan has with the natural world, both its beauty and its cruelty, both its purity and its pollution at the hands of mankind. In her abstract work like Water Study, she develops a visual language that expresses her inspiration taken from natural cues and infuses it with spirit and spontaneity.

Susan Swartz Water Study 004

Water Study 004
48 x 48

While Susan has fully embraced abstract painting only for the past few years, there was foreshadowing of a major artistic revolution in some of her earlier work, like Exploding Sky from 2008 or even Calm Day from 2009.

Often painting with a palette knife, Susan has long explored the fusion of texture with saturated colors. Each pull of the knife covers or uncovers the color behind it, unveiling discovery or fostering growth. 

In her Water Study series, what began as an abstract inquiry has exploded into a primary passion, in which Susan interprets the complexities of nature in kaleidoscopic hues. In Water Study 004, dappling reflections and urgent moments describe her keen observations found in the illusions of light.

Susan Swartz Water Study 002

Water Study 002
36 x 36

cuadernosdefilosofia.comSusan is an artist who not only sees, but also relishes the contrasts of nature.  Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in her inspiration itself. For large portions of the year, she paints from her mountaintop studio in Utah, surrounded by the repetitive linear forms of bare aspen trunks and the craggy peaks of the high desert. There’s a sharpness to Susan’s pieces created in the West.

cuadernosdefilosofia.comDuring the summer months, however, Susan paints in an entirely distinct landscape—the seaside of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. The work she creates here has a softness to it, an almost feminine curve not found in her mountain-inspired pieces.

In the last few years, Susan has begun pushing her expressionist style to something increasingly abstract, especially evident in her Water Study series. Like much of Susan’s work, the Water Study paintings—now numbering five—focus on the contrasts found in nature. Its hospitality and hostility are the foundation of her inquiry in Water Study, which is both a sweeping view and a close-up observation of the ocean’s idiosyncrasies.