Susan Alta Martin

Susan Alta Martin

Photography | Cullowhee

The North Carolina Arts Council supports diverse and innovative artists with fellowships professional development and more to enhance the state’s brand and drive economic impact.

Cullowhee artist Susan Alta Martin explores the relationship between images of the world and the physical reality of place in her body of work. By pushing sculpture into two-dimensional form and photography into the sculptural realm, she deepens the dialogue between idea and materiality in ways that challenge our expectations about representation, both in the gallery and in the world around us.

As she explains, “Like thoughts, photos are often based on reality, but they are framed, contextualized and interpreted in a particular way. They may also be complete fabrications. Images and ideas can both be placed on a continuum from fact to fiction. Wherever they land on the continuum they can be assembled and rearranged to create broader ideas and world views.” The construction and reconstruction of an idea is evident in her creative process. Original photographs become the basis of three-dimensional forms that are then re-documented through her camera’s lens. The resulting photographs, sculptures, and documentation encourage viewers to reconsider their own ideas about their relationship to the world, especially in an age when understanding is gained through intermediary sources as opposed to personal experience.  This recursive, multi-media approach allows her to play with the themes of idea and form, and fabrication and reality. The repetition itself has a generative effect: “I like to work on multiple projects at once, hoping to discover ways in which we construct our worldviews and the effect they have on physical reality.”

Susan Alta Martin is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. Her work has been exhibited at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and at the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design in Asheville. She received an M.F.A in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is an Instructor of Photography and the History of Photography at Western Carolina University.