Susan Heller

Artist Statement

As far back as I can remember I was always sewing something—making things. I think I
was born with “busy hands”. So it was inevitable that as an adult I would find my way to
quilt making.

I use my quilts to explore states of mind – how different experiences make me feel. Through the mask quilts I can delve into the spiritual and inner worlds of others— how people have the need to align the spirits and their gods to keep them safe. Although re-imagined, many appear to have come out of Africa. Others interpret the mysterious spirit boards that the New Guinea tribesmen used in their ceremonial invocations to their spirit protectors.

My work falls outside of the traditional function of a quilt. Most have been released from the confinement of the customary background. Others have had their background removed to a second layer, creating a level of dimension not typical of quilted works. Each piece has been appliquéd, quilted and either embellished with hand-embroidery or beading or both.

I am a native New Yorker, who with my husband Jack, have relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008, drawn west by the call of family, the beautiful California hills and the arts-friendly community. In New York I was invited to exhibit of my quilts in a 3-woman show called “Thrice Threads at the Pomona Cultural Center Gallery.  Through the years I’ve shown my work at many quilt shows including the Northern Star Quilters Guild in Somers NY and at the Schweinfurth Museum in Auburn NY— where I won several awards. 

Here in California my work has been shown at The Thousand Oaks Gallery in Berkeley, and as a member of Fiber Dimensions I have exhibited at The Blue Line Gallery in Roseville, The Bay Model Gallery in Sausalito and in the exhibition space at 500 Howard Street in San Francisco. 

The Quilt Life magazine featured “Jester”, one of my dual-image facemasks, in the October 2011 issue. A collection of my masks and other quilted works are currently showing at The Moraga Art Gallery in Moraga, CA.

Susan Heller