Short Biography

Susan Gardner born 1941 is an American painter, photographer and poet known for her poems about nature and human relations as well as the intimately detailed photography especially of the landscape and plants. Her book of poetry entitled “Box of Light ~ Caja de Luz” is noted for its unique pairing of Spanish and English poems. Gardner’s experiences living in Asia, Mexico and Europe have contributed to a visual style which may be called abstract naturalism. The development of this visual style parallels the evolution of her poetry, which is characterized by elegantly concise and direct language. Over the course of almost four decades her work has been widely published and exhibited. Critics since the 1970s to the present have frequently commented on the lyricism and rhythmic quality of her paintings and photography as well as her poetry. In each medium, her art is concerned with the natural environment, human relationships and the mutual influence of human beings with the landscape.
From the base of representational sumi-e painting, learned in Korea and Japan, Gardner evolved a style which may be called abstract naturalism, seeking to capture the essential qualities of the subject, sometimes with altered perspective or using only a fraction of the subject to represent the whole. This characteristic is exemplified in her calligraphy and later came to distinguish her poetry as well.
Gardner’s painting, photography and poetry are infused with a sense of lyrical spontaneity, of freshness in both form and content. She explores and illuminates the relationships between individuals, society, and nature. She has the ability to extract contextual meaning from the subtle undertones of her surroundings and associations in an exceptional way.
The inspiration behind the images Gardner’s awareness of human interaction with history, tradition and the land. Gardner infuses her photography with an appreciation for line and a sense of stillness and simplicity.
“Gardner is an artist of atmosphere. Her style is unpretentious, austere, yet various…. The geometry of her transparencies bring to mind lex parsimoniae, or the law of parsimony… Gardner’s syllables, round as stream pebbles, are reminiscent of Albert Einstein’s paraphrase of Occam’s razor: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.” Although the English-language poems are slightly familiar in phrasing at times, the lovely cousinship of two languages Spanish and English may be compared to the song of a musical instrument whose two strings, bowed or plucked, resonate with others in rich harmonic overtones… The musical vowels of her poetry give us a quiet assurance centered upon domestic spaces and natural settings, each word hovering in its own luminous space, although some poems hint occasionally at unrest, violence, and global conflict.”
In Mexico, she began to paint with oil on canvas, experimenting with traditional materials as her work became more abstract. Her photography was first exhibited publicly in 1998 at St. John’s College Gallery, Santa Fe, simultaneously with the publication of her first book of poetry, Intimate Landscapes