Memphis, TN | Painting
For several decades Susan Maakestad has painted abstracted landscapes empty of human activity but filled with brilliant color and recollected light. Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, an ArtsAccelerator Grant from ArtsMemphis and direct purchase awards from the UrbanArts Commission in Memphis. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has been included in “New American Paintings” and has been exhibited nationally. Public collections include the Tennessee State Museum, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the City of Memphis. She earned a MFA from The University of Iowa and a B.A magna cum laude and M.A. from Central Washington University. Maakestad is Professor of Art at Memphis College of Art.
I have been painting the urban scene in an abstract manner for fifteen years. Early on I painted empty sidewalks and parking lots, transforming the mundane urban landscape with diffuse atmosphere and exaggerated color. In 2009, I began utilizing Internet traffic information as the basis for these increasingly abstracted images. What interested me most were the undifferentiated stretches of the urban Midwest with its mercurial winter weather. In these pieces, the long empty vistas and changing light evoke a degree of wistful contemplation. Recently a move to a studio near interstate 55 in Memphis put the highways and sunset views directly outside my window. The emotional impact of these deserted panoramas is more important than accurate representation. I am influenced by 19th century American landscape painting and by the Buddhist concept of groundlessness. The tension between abstraction and illusionism in my work generates something familiar and yet unknown, of this world and yet also otherworldly.