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

ART, FILM AND SOCIAL JUSTICE UNITE DURING SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2020

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.

cuadernosdefilosofia.com“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.

Susan 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.

 

ABOUT SUSAN SWARTZ

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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 in 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.

Sundance Film Festival Utah Women's Leadership Celebration

Sundance Institute and Zions Bank have joined forces to recognize women leaders in the arts.  This year’s award celebration fell at the end of the Sundance Film Festival, which hosted discussions and events surrounding the roles of women in the arts, particularly the film industry.  The award holds significant weight, occurring at a time when women in the film and television industries are trying to raise awareness and shift paradigms of gender norms.

The event celebrated women onscreen, behind the independent lens, and local role models.  As an involved member of the documentary film community and an artist, Susan’s award reads as follows:

For her leadership in the arts, we recognize Susan Swartz, an internationally acclaimed visual artist who explores nature through potent colors and richly layered abstract paintings. Inspired by the intersection of art, nature and spirituality, her distinctive style has earned her a place in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Springville Museum of Art.  Susan was the Official Olympic Environmental Artist for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and is published in the Gibbs Smith collectors book .  She is a member of the Deans Council of the Harvard Divinity School and a Founder of the Christian Center of Park City and Impact Partners, producing many award winning documentary films.  

The award was presented at the Sundance Film Festival Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration, a luncheon and private film event honoring female leaders in the arts.  The luncheon included a presentation by Geena Davis, Academy Award-winning actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media.

At the end of the celebration, Zions Bank presented Geena Davis with a Susan Swartz original painting in recognition of all the hard work she has done for women in media and the arts.  In Susan’s words the painting, Crimson Fog, “symbolizes Geena’s exuberance for life and activist endeavors.  The red color of the painting represents Geena and the strength and capabilities that women hold.”

Susan is honored to have participated in this celebration and to have been able to help Zions Bank recognize Geena for her impact on women in the arts.  Geena, Susan, and the women in attendance have been and will continue to be trailblazers for women in the arts and media.