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MEET PAM SUTHERLAND | OCTOBER 2023 DUO ART EXHIBIT

PAM SUTHERLAND

Tell us about your most recent collection.  
These collages were inspired by, and made of, my Collegiate students’ paint palettes. While I eventually throw them away, I would often notice how beautiful they were without “even trying. “ So I started saving the ones that spoke to me. They also reminded me of things in their shapes and colors---landscapes or certain emotional states---and this led me to Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions. I see this series as working “answers” to and/or visual translations of some of those lines of poetry.

How would you describe your art to first-time viewers?
I like to make things out of ordinarily discarded stuff, but which I, for whatever reason, find filled with meaning. I hope the ordinary becomes extraordinary in my work.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I equate beauty with poignancy. There has to be something dark in the light. I’m looking for the viewer who when they babysat looked through the family’s drawers! I need my viewer to be a voyeur: they have to want to think and take things apart and have things mean.

Do you have any favorite pieces in this collection?
My favorite from the Palette collection is Why Does Spring Once Again Offer Its Green Clothes? I love the way the sewing notions and fashion magazine cutouts serve to illustrate Neruda’s words; I love the computer filament sun held by a safety pin that can rise and fall like a toy. The colors here are not favorites of mine generally but I love them here. It was also just really fun to make. I am also very fond of 19 Tears, One Lake for the way it straddles two and three-dimensionality. From the six Island Grammar pieces I am most fond of Isola 5 (death). It houses visual remnants of people I have lost, including my father, and in that way captures what I think art is ultimately for: to hold onto that which is impermanent and fleeting.

Which piece in this collection was the most fun to complete?
The last one I made in the palette collection: Which Yellow Bird Fills its Nest with Lemons? I do! Artists take lemons and make lemonade (at least this one does). This piece came together so quickly; it felt like an exclamation point on the whole project.

On a scale from 1-10, how excited are you about life right now? 
I’m a 9 most days as I feel grateful to be alive.

What is one thing we would never guess about you?
That I could spend all day watching My 600 Pound Life.

If money were no object, how would you spend your time?
Not much differently than I do now. I would still teach but part-time. I would immediately build that house outside of Asheville we want to retire to. I’d put my mother in the most amazing assisted living facility money could buy. And I’d travel more regularly with my husband and family to the island in Greece, Hydra, where some of my family lives.

Besides painting, what are some other activities you enjoy?
Anything related to food: shopping for it, perusing recipes, cooking anything, eating, dining in restaurants, etc. Reading. Working out. Staring into space with my cat in my lap. Watching Happy Valley—really any television series—with my husband.

What's something you can't do, but wish you could?  
Modern dance; speak Italian fluently; sew effortlessly.

What's one thing that instantly makes your day better?
Sunny, crisp, cool air.

Vintage or new?
Both at the same time.

Summer or winter?
Winter now. As the world warms, I so miss true cold (and coats).

Do you have pieces of art in your home that are favorites of yours?
An abstract blue metal piece titled “Dogwood” by a Charlottesville artist named Will Harrington that my parents owned. I also recently purchased a wall sculpture from a Florida artist I saw at Quirk Charlottesville, Molly Evans, that combines ceramic, metal and fabric. It is also blue. I guess you know what my favorite color is.

What's one thing that you always have with you?
Bit O Honey’s are always in my car!

Who's your style icon?
Myself. And Iris Apfel. I want to still be dressing “in my own way” when I’m very old.

What's one thing you are unbeatable at?
Multi-tasking. Time management in general. I was a very good waitress.

What's your favorite snack food?
Lay’s Potato Chips. Best chip ever.

What's something you are most proud of?
That I finally learned how to let a good man love me.

If you could own any work of art in existence, which one would it be?
Robert Rauschenberg’s “Levee” 1955. Really anything made by Rauschenberg in the 1950s.

What's your most used emoji?
The confounded one 🥴

As for doing the show TOGETHER, I am THRILLED. Claiborne and I actually met over twenty years ago through a mutual friend but had lost touch over the years. We reconnected when I became her daughter, Cate’s, art teacher four years ago at Collegiate. We are also both contributors to the non-profit Milk River Arts through our dear friend Sally Kemp. That Claiborne saw what I was making one day and asked me to join her has been such a gift. I can’t wait to see how our collective visual language resonates on these endless white walls.

BIOGRAPHY

“I am interested in the space between sentiment and formalism, between beauty and its shadow. My work, by appropriating and adding to the collected evidence of my life, pays homage to art’s unique ability to give permanence to the fleeting.”

Pam Sutherland is an artist residing in Richmond, VA working in mixed media, installation and collage. She has been teaching drawing and painting at The Collegiate School since 1998 and counts her students among the most inspiring parts of her life. Pam received the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship in Drawing in 2005. Solo shows include Souvenirs of Daily Life at Second Street Gallery in Charlottesville, VA (2001) ; Too Much Sugar at the Main Art Gallery in Richmond, VA (2006); Esoteric Blanket (2007) and Ghosts from a Middle Place (2010) at the Kathryn Markel Gallery in New York City; Acts of Arrangement at The Page Bond Gallery in Richmond, VA (2013); and Scrapbook (2017) and Island Grammar (2021) at Quirk Gallery in Richmond. Her work was at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke, VA as part of its Homeward Bound triennial juried exhibition in January 2022. Pam was an artist fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 2006. Her work was published in the Open Studio Press’ Studio Visit in 2008. She is the 2009 recipient of the Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in Fine Art given by Richmond Magazine. Her work is in several public collections including the University of Virginia, the Federal Reserve Bank, Wachovia Securities and the Try Me Collection. Pam holds a B.A. in Fine Art from The College of William and Mary and an M.F.A. in Painting from Washington University in St. Louis.

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