Home | About | Exhibition History |Cuba Series:  1   2  3 | Niger Series | Prints | Chekeres and Guiros |Contact



Susan Matthews

I am a painter and percussionist from Oakland, California. I have traveled extensively in Latin American and recently in the Sahel, near Maradi, in Niger, West Africa. 

My paintings are based on my travels.  They talk about traditions that have come to us from ancient times and survive in contemporary life.

Please see my resume for exhibition history.  My paintings and prints are available for sale.  If you would like to contact me, send an email to: susanmat@LMi.net

Photo:  Jackie Thomason

Cuba Series

I have been to Cuba many times to study with master drummers. While immersed in my studies I take snap shots of musicians and dancers in action. When I get back to the studio I revise and rearrange images to depict real and imagined events and people. My Cuban friends can't believe it when they see themselves in paint. There is something amazing about seeing yourself and your world in a painting. Maybe because a painting is one step removed from reality, it seems to elevate the present moment to immortal status.

Some of my travel writing, photographs, and paintings have been published on artist-at-large.com, a web site dedicated to art and travel. My work also appears on boogalu.com, and batadrums.com.

19 X 26 prints of Guaguanco, Despedida, La Ola de Yemaya, and Abanicos are available.

The Niger Series

My current work is about a trip I took to Niger in 2004. I visited the Hausa and Fulani people of the Sahel, a dry strip of desert on the edge of the Sahara. The people live in mud huts, making their own tools, pounding millet and sorghum, and hoping for rain. I was welcomed into the villages because my brother and his family had lived in the area for many years. To my surprise, as I walked along the sandy paths between the parched fields, many people wanted to pose for the camera, with the expectation that I would send a photo back to them.

The hardships of their daily lives were unthinkable, and their survival was uncertain from season to season. Even the heat was demoralizing. In spite of this, the people I met projected a misleading sense of well being. Outwardly they were calm, dignified, and elegant. I was intrigued by the disconnect between their serene appearance and the relentless struggles of their daily lives.

I have used gold, silver, or copper leaf backgrounds to recall Byzantine and Renaissance portraiture, from which African faces are noticeably absent. My intention was to include them in western art as individuals, replacing the faceless victims we see in the news. I build up the surfaces using many layers of transparent glazes, suggesting a contemporized version of renaissance chiaroscuro technique.

I received a small grant from the George Sugarman Foundation to start a print project. 16” X 20” prints are available of some of the paintings, each of which is gold, silver, or copper leafed by hand. I send a percentage of each painting and print I sell directly back to the villages.


Home | About | Exhibition History |Cuba Series:  1   2  3 | Niger Series | Prints | Chekeres and Guiros Contact

©2000/01/02/03/04/adinfinitum Susan Matthews and SusanMatthewsGallery.com All Rights Reserved.
Work may not bereproduced in any manner without permission from the artist.