Suzy Poling

My work is definitely about time travel... Sometimes I feel like I’m in a world of my own that exists in between... places.

I have met a lot of characters in my life; people with big booming personalities whose voices always seem louder, braver, and wilder than everyone else in the room. Lots of people in my family are like that. Their thoughts are uncommon and restless, and sometimes veer into seemingly nonsensical territory, but if you listen close enough it becomes obvious that their ideas are in fact actually sound and more often than not it’s just the delivery that is erratic and extravagant. Suzy is a bit of that ilk— like a fireworks show against a night sky full of light, smoke, and noise— she all at once mystifies and delights with her unchecked enthusiasm and curiosity. And she certainly leaves a lasting impression.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Suzy in her garage studio at her home in LA— it’s a space she has since moved out of, but at the time she had only recently relocated to LA and was still getting settled. Suzy is a force; talkative and engaging, she quickly asks questions and openly reveals her immediate thoughts, which seem to come in sudden, frenzied stampedes, like a rush of wild animals. It can be hard to keep up with her; by the time you’ve processed something she just said, she’s already darted off to her next idea. Suzy’s extensive body of work easily reveals her fidgety, innovative spirit— she works within various disciplines, including video, photography, collage, painting, sound, and sculptural installation, and takes on each project with the understanding that, “All of the mediums connect in one way or another… Conceptually they all feel like one in the same…”

Despite Suzy’s many mediums, her work does feel very much connected, especially in its distinctive aesthetic that seems to reference the magic and decay in both cosmic and terrestrial landscapes. Her imagery is raw in its vulnerability but decadent and grand in its color, contrasts, and impulsions. It’s kind of funny to say, but when I look at her work what pops into my head is, “galactic proportions and possibility.” Everything just feels expansive and weird and wonderfully cryptic.

How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?
Archaic Futurism, Natural Phenomenon, Light Art, Ritual and Performance, Chemical Experiments and Experiential Landscapes.

What mediums do you work with?
Painting, Photography, Sound, Sculpture, Performance Art, Video, Film, Collage, Fiber Art and Silkscreening.

You have a very varied art practice in which you employ a vast array of materials and mediums— how do you think this benefits your body of work overall? What are the pitfalls?
All of the mediums connect in one way or another within my work. Conceptually they all feel like one in the same to me. Visually my art usually goes through the photographic filter because that is my oldest medium. Any pitfalls would possibly be the trickiness of navigating between the art world and music world. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a world of my own that exists in between these places. But I think that’s what people like about my work.

What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I’m really inspired by German Industrial and New Wave music from the early 1980s. The Vienna Aktionists, Robert Smithson and Harry Smith are big influences on my artwork. I feel deep resonance with all of these artists.

Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
I am working on laser cutting mirrors and building more sculptures that are meant to be used for hypnosis.

What risks have you taken in your work, and what has been at stake?
I would say my entire life has been at stake. I have put absolutely everything into making art and I plan on doing it for the rest of my life.

How do you navigate the art world?
I seem to always have one foot in the commercial world, one in academia and one in the underground. I work with commercial art galleries, universities, art centers, as well as other artists and we put out independent releases. I have mostly done performance and installations in museums though. I guess you just build relationships with people that you feel a connection with and whose work you are drawn to.

Do you see your work as relating to any current movement or direction in visual art or culture?
Sure. I feel like I am a part of a collective understanding across the entire globe. I connect with different artists in the US, Europe, Japan and even Taiwan. I have had penpal friendships with different folks for years. I’d say that I connect with artists who want to blend music, art and fashion together in a more independent way. I’d say the movement that I feel involved with embraces media and bends it into a more ritualistic practice, mystical exploration and scientific research methodology.

Which other artists might your work be in conversation with?

I consider myself to be a part of a collective with artists Kamau Amu Patton, Dion Oliver, Maggie Foster, Owleyes, Rolan Vega, Andy Puls, Chromium Dumb Belle, CF, Experimental Video Half Hour, ESP TV, Future Blondes, Carlos Gonzales and Julia Solis. I have collaborated with many other artists that I haven’t mentioned here.

Do you have a motto?
I’ve been going with Archaic Futurism lately. Which means: digging far into the past to access the elements and rudimentary ideas to gain more knowledge about advanced thought that is ultimately, timeless. My work is definitely about time travel.

Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? Where and when?
I am doing a film screening at the Echo Park Film Center, as well as a group show with an art collective that I am involved in called Unground at Ditch Projects in Oregon and then a group show in Houston in September. I am now represented by Aimee Friberg/Cult Exhibitions and also ZG Gallery in Chicago. I am currently working on another solo LP and other recordings and am working on a book.

To see more of Suzy’s work: