This section includes news about my artwork and the art collective in which I am a member, Lakes Were Rivers.
"Looking for Some Enlightenment" Photo by Jay Jenner, Austin American-Statesman
May 17, 2019
Susan Scafati Art Installation at Austin Central Library on cover of Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
Touching on themes of technology and interconnectedness, Scafati’s plexiglass structures and prints find a home in an urban space" by Mary K. Cantrell, Sightlines
April 25, 2019
Midmorning visitors to the Austin Central Library find themselves bathed in kaleidoscopic hues of pink, blue, yellow and orange light by the two-story plexiglass installation “If a 🌳 falls…,” the work of multimedia artist Susan Scafati.
“I think that aesthetically, and psychologically, that influence of seeing cities construct and destruct plays into these installations,” says Scafati. “To have [the installation] in these windows where it’s overlooking downtown — the cityscape that I was looking at when this imagery originated — feels powerful to me.”
Texas Cultural Trust Presents Susan Scafati at Texas Medal of Arts Awards
February 27, 2019
Texas Cultural Trust is pleased to feature, as part of our Texas Medal of Arts Awards celebration, a commissioned, site-responsive 111-foot art installation by American contemporary artist Susan Scafati titled “🏢🔳🔷♦️🔺🔶🔹.” Overlooking Austin’s skyline from the Long Center’s City Terrace, “🏢🔳🔷♦️🔺🔶🔹” reimagines our constructed landscape as a suspended spectrum of everyday urban forms in flux. This exhibition is in conjunction with a project that is supported in part by the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division.
The 2019 celebration is co-chaired by Leslie Blanton and Leslie Ward and will begin with the Arts Alive! cocktail reception at the Blanton Museum of Art on the evening of February 26th and will culminate with the Rise with the Arts Brunch at the Texas Governor’s Mansion, where Governor Greg Abbott will present the medals to the honorees. The Red Carpet Reception, Awards Show and Gala Dinner will take place at the Long Center for Performing Arts on February 27th.
Scafati’s artwork has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries. Career highlights include juried exhibitions by the Museum of Modern Art/ MOMA Photography Curator Sarah Meister (University of the Arts, Philadelphia) and Cindy Sherman, Adam Fuss, Jack Pierce (Sean Kelly Gallery, New York); the Modern Voice Artist for the "Goya: Mad Reason" exhibition (Blanton Museum); Artist-in-Residence at Facebook’s Austin office resulting in a commissioned 4-story art installation; and recipient of L’Ecole Nationale Photographie Superieur Award from the International Center of Photography.
The Photo Review Exhibition, Juried by MOMA Curator of Photography, Sarah Meister
November 9 - December 9, 2018
I'm honored to have had my artwork selected by the Museum of Modern Art/ MOMA Curator of Photography, Sarah Meister, for "The Photo Review" exhibition at The University of the Arts, and publication in "The Photo Review," a critical, international contemporary photography journal.
Bonsack Gallery Presents A Solo Exhibition by Susan Scafati
October 11 - November 28 (Opening Reception 5:30-7:30pm October 11)
American conceptual artist Susan Scafati’s solo show "If a 🌳 falls…" will be on exhibit in the Bonsack Gallery at John Burroughs School from Thursday, October 11 through Wednesday, November 28, with an opening reception on October 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. "If a 🌳 falls…" explores existence and perception in the age of smart phones, inviting us to think about how representation of one’s self and one’s world is expressed within our visual, virtual culture today.
Art & Life with Susan Scafati, by Voyage Houston magazine
August 1, 2018
Houston has always had an artistic soul. The culture and heritage of our city, like most great cities, owes a tremendous debt to the arts community. Supporting local art is something we care deeply about and we’d like to do everything we can to help the local arts community thrive. You’ll find some incredible artists from in and around Downtown that we hope you will check out, follow and support. Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Scafati...
Susan Scafati Shahan's installation from her body of work titled “ t e x t s c a p e “ is a meditation on constructed worlds, communication and connection through the gesture of text messaging. She creates a multitude of iterations of the ubiquitous smartphone textbox, enlarging and layering its form from its familiar handheld size to up to several feet. This play on scale shifts its physical relationship to the human form and suggests a metaphor for a greater psychological impact on human experience. The interplay between the installation and the geometry of the cityscape outside the Facebook office windows presents filtered, constructed worlds in flux. It invites viewers to think about the ways in which everyday forms influence individual and collective behavior. Susanscafati.net
Photography by Anna Mazurek
Susan Scafati: FB Austin Winter 2017 Commission (Artist Video)
Susan’s installation from her body of work titled “ t e x t s c a p e “ is a meditation on constructed worlds, communication and connection through the gesture of text messaging. For this iteration, she invited the FB Austin community to co-create the work, resulting in phrases added to the textbox forms in 11 different languages. Watch this video to see how the interplay between the installation, diverse individuals and the cityscape invites viewers to think about the ways in which everyday forms influence individual and collective behavior. Video by June Zandona
... I was going for a walk during a 36-hour visit to Austin, wrestling with whether to move here from Manhattan. Up ahead I saw, memorialized in the Ransom Center’s glass, the New York Yankees, Alfred Hitchcock, Igor Stravinsky, Eadweard Muybridge, and Eliot Elisofon’s Duchamp. I walked in and saw the first photograph—View from the Window at Le Gras by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. The building was silent and no one was around. Having these sorts of private experiences with iconic works in spaces, where art has the room just to be, changed my perception of art that I’d been looking at for years in books, on screens, and in crowded venues, and drew me to the area...
The American artist Susan Scafati referred to certain experiences and iconography that include notions of right and wrong in our collective global conscious, the way meaning is organized and subject to change, and life’s ability to transform so rapidly that your mind is unable to simultaneously rationalize what you see, and she found that all these were also inherent in the bullfight.
In the book Sangre De Reyes, Carlos Cazalis explores the bullfight alongside the Spanish matador José Tomás, considered the greatest matador that has lived, from a more cultural anthropological approach, following him for nine years through Spain, France and Mexico...
Photo by Spanish-Mexican photographer Carlos Cazalis from the book Sangre de Reyes.
We are pleased to share our interview with Ransom Center member Susan Scafati, an Austin-based, American contemporary artist. She is a member of Lakes Were Rivers, an artist collective showcased in the Ransom Center’s 2013 exhibition Contemporary Photographic Practice and the Archive.
You can view Susan’s artwork during East Austin Studio Tour (Canopy, #1110) and in an upcoming exhibition at Co-Lab Projects, opening December 16, 2016.
Registration opened today for The Contemporary Austin's art school fall semester! Sign up online for the 'Redefining Photography in Today's Contemporary Art Culture' class that I'm teaching starting November 1.
Artists pictured here are among the ones we'll survey in class (includes Liz Deschenes, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Mariah Robertson, Brandon Lattu, Sarah Sze, Win McCarthy, Ellen Carey, Anouk Kruithof, Andréa Stanislav, and Penelope Umbrico.)
If you’ve visited the Blanton’s latest exhibition Goya: Mad Reason, you might have heard audio recordings scattered around the galleries that juxtapose modern reflections on themes in the exhibition with words by Goya and his contemporaries. One of these recordings feature both the words and work of Susan Scafati, an Austin-based American contemporary artist. Exhibition curator Douglas Cushing sat down with Scafati to discuss her work and the visual culture of bullfighting, both in Goya’s time and today.
Susan Scafati was commissioned by the Blanton Museum to be the modern voice in La Tauromaquia (The Art of Bullfighting) room of the "Goya: Mad Reason" exhibition, where she reflects on her experiences making artwork on the subject of the bullfight. Includes 150 prints by the master Spanish painter Francisco Goya, curated by Douglas Cushing.
On view June 19-September 25
LEFT: Scafati's "Taureau Noir" photo installation (reproduction view; actual is 6 feet by 9 feet)
RIGHT: Goya's image of bullfighter Juanito Apiñani leaping over a bull in the ring
In its 24th year, The Austin Critics' Table, including arts critics from the American-Statesman and the Austin Chronicle, again recognized outstanding achievement in a host of categories across arts disciplines. Also honored at the ceremony were Austin Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Bay, Ballet Austin artistic director Stephen Mills and Ballet Austin executive director Cookie Ruiz, all of whom were formally inducted to the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.
Awarded in the VISUAL ART category for Best Museum Exhibition was The Contemporary Austin museum's Strange Pilgrims exhibition.
(... see article for full list of winners)
Art Talk for Mexico City's AtravesARTE Contemporary Art Experiences and Mexican Consulate-General
Susan Scafati gives an art talk about her artwork to Mexico City's AtravesARTE Contemporary Art Experiences and other leaders from the international contemporary art field, and the Mexican Consulate-General. This picture was later featured in an Artnet article.
Art Talks at Eanes Elementary School
Susan Scafati was invited to give art talks at Eanes Elementary School. She presented about art based on everyday inspirations, surveying contemporary and modern artists including Nam June Paik (pictured), Andy Warhol, and Victor Nunes, as well as her own artworks.
"Biophilia Deconstruct" Exhibited in Women & Their Work gallery's "Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose" event
April 16, 2016
"Biophilia Deconstruct" is an artwork (12" x 14" archival inkjet prints, wood, acrylic) created by Susan Scafati for Women and Their Work. This year’s Benefit Bash theme, Rose is a Rose is a Rose, is a nod to two early twentieth century artists: writer and art patron Gertrude Stein, who memorialized the phrase in her poem “Sacred Emily,” and Rose Sélavy, artist Marcel Duchamp’s glorious alter ego whose name is a play on the French phrase "arroser la vie," which translates to one of our favorite directives: Make a toast to life!
In this class we will explore portrait photography through a narrative, conceptual framework. Looking at visual devices across different examples of contemporary art, we will consider how decisions throughout the making and presenting of an image contribute to its story - including lens-based source, camera position, location, scale, colors, semiotics, combined materials, the use and arrangement of a single versus multiple images, and dynamic platforms where stories can live. We will look at the role of the image-maker in conveying the psychological, emotional, and aesthetic qualities of individual and collective stories. Students will be asked to make work responding to and deepening their engagement with Austin, while thinking about the ways in which the art of portraiture influences perception, myth, and reality of individual and cultural identities. This class will focus on creative portraiture from a philosophical, narrative, contemporary, and conceptual framework rather than a technical or traditional standpoint. Photography in this class is approached as encompassing intermediate to advanced artists committed to using photography, photography-related, or lens-based approaches as a primary component of their visual storytelling process.
Inspirations pictured: "More Songs About Buildings and Food" Polaroid SX-70 prints, David Byrne; "Speaking in Tongues" Talking Heads record cover by Robert Rauschenberg; "Robot K-456" by Nam June Paik (named for Mozart's Piano Concerto No.18 in B-flat major K.456); "TV Cello" by Nam June Paik; "Load" Metallica album cover art by Andres Serrano.
... The Austin-based collective Lakes Were Rivers make special use of the interior of Laguna’s historic Driscoll Villa building. Exploiting an archive of photographs and found material on Laguna Gloria itself, Swan Cycle is presented as an intelligent solution to the building’s limitations as an exhibition venue. The collective’s installation cleanly contextualizes the space.
Visiting Artist at St. Edwards University
November 3, 2015
Susan Scafati was invited to be a Visiting Artist at St. Edwards University during the fall 2015 semester. She presented her artwork and spoke about her inspirations.
....while photography collective Lakes Were Rivers quietly steals the show. Its project, Swan Cycle, 2015, involves a low plinth installed with framed photographs of archival material—newspaper clippings, ice sculpture, a painting—that summon the history of the estate, the museum, and photography. To see all the images, you must mount the villa’s balcony, yet to study any one picture requires remaining below. The work, like “Strange Pilgrims,” arouses the rich and contingent way meaning develops through experience....
The Contemporary Austin's Julia Hendrickson discusses the Strange Pilgrims exhibition & catalog with Lakes Were Rivers members Jessica Mallios, Susan Scafati, and Adam Schreiber at the Texas Book Festival.
Strange Pilgrims is the catalogue accompanying an exhibition at The Contemporary Austin that features fourteen artists whose experiential practices lead viewers on an open-ended journey through strange and unfamiliar spaces.
Date: Sunday, October 18, 2015 Time: 12:00 - 12:45 Location: The Contemporary Austin--Jones Center (700 Congress)
What does it take to make art that is more than a painting on a wall? Art that is immersive, larger than life, and completely captures the complexities of the imagination? Journey into the minds of the artists behind The Contemporary Austin exhibition and accompanying catalog Strange Pilgrims-- an exhibition that reflects the complicated human journey through strange and unfamiliar spaces.
Attending Authors: Jessica Mallios, Susan Scafati, and Adam Schreiber
Curator Heather Pesanti, along with artists and authors from The Contemporary Austin museum's Strange Pilgrims exhibiton catalog, were present to sign the 250-page, full-color catalogue.
In the past fifty years, contemporary artistic practice has witnessed a surge in phenomenological types of artistic intent and methodology, represented by divergent impulses sharing a desire to channel ephemeral elements, resist categorization, and defy the rarified museum experience. Time-based work is now widely accepted as primary exhibition matter, and in the past ten years, performance art has risen to the mainstream. Defining “experiential art” as work that is immersive, participatory, performative, and kinetic, Strange Pilgrims is an exhibition and accompanying catalogue organized by The Contemporary Austin, weaving fourteen artists into a loose collection of propositions occupying unconventional spaces and formats. The title comes from Gabriel García Márquez’s collection of twelve short stories of the same name, riffing on the wandering protagonist as a metaphor for an open-ended journey through strange and unfamiliar spaces.
Created in tandem with the exhibition on view in fall 2015 and winter 2016 at The Contemporary Austin’s two sites, as well as a third venue, the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin, this catalogue presents a parallel but stand-alone assemblage of ideas and concepts that respond to and resonate with one another under the broad umbrella of experience and perception. The book features an essay by the curator Heather Pesanti, a guest essay by the scholar Ann Reynolds, and an interview between author and critic Lawrence Weschler and the philosopher Alva Noë. All fourteen artists are represented through individual sections with color plates and explicatory text. In addition, Artist’s Voice sections have been contributed by Roger Hiorns, Trisha Baga and Jessie Stead, and Lakes Were Rivers.
Sept. 25-27: Strange Pilgrims Opens at Contemporary Austin (features 14 artists, including Lakes Were Rivers)
September 27, 2015 - January 24, 2016
Lakes Were Rivers is excited to be exhibiting our new project, Swan Cycle, commissioned by the museum, in The Contemporary Austin's Strange Pilgrims exhibition!
Strange Pilgrims begins with the notion of the traveler: an open-ended journey through time, space, imagination, perception, and the senses. Presenting fourteen artists over three sites, Strange Pilgrims proposes "experiential art" as work that is immersive, participatory, performative, and kinetic.
Charles Atlas, Trisha Baga, Millie Chen, Phil Collins, Andy Coolquitt, Ayse Erkmen, Roger Hiorns, Nancy Holt, Lakes Were Rivers, Angelbert Metoyer, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Paul Sharits, Sofía Táboas
Susan Scafati Teaches the Art of Narrative Portraiture at The Contemporary Austin
September 22, 2015 - December 8, 2015
Austin-based contemporary artist Susan Scafati will be teaching a new “Art of Narrative Portraiture” course at The Contemporary Austin this fall. Students will make work responding to and deepening their engagement with Austin while thinking about the ways in which the art of portraiture influences the perception, myth, and reality of individual and cultural identities... The course is a special exhibition-related offering in conjunction with the Strange Pilgrims exhibition, opening at The Contemporary Austin on September 27, in which work from Lakes Were Rivers, a collective in which Scafati is a member, will be on view.... Work from 14 international artists will be on view, including Charles Atlas, Trisha Baga, MillieChen, Phil Collins, Andy Coolquitt, Ayşe Erkmen, Roger Hiorns, Nancy Holt, Lakes Were Rivers, Angelbert Metoyer, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, Paul Sharits, Sofía Táboas.
“I love this idea of pilgrimage,” Pesanti said. “The idea that you’re traveling through these spaces, and you’re having an experience in which, like a pilgrimage, you’re changed afterwards.”
Strange Pilgrims is The Contemporary’s largest exhibition. Fourteen internationally recognized artists are spread across three different locations around Austin — Laguna Gloria, The Jones Center and UT’s Department of Art and Art History.
Art history associate professor Ann Reynolds contributed a scholarly essay to the catalog of Strange Pilgrims. “Since I’ve taught at UT, [Strange Pilgrims] is by far the most ambitious show that’s ever happened here,” Reynolds said. “There are going to be some major artists doing major works, which has never happened on this kind of scale.
Lakes Were Rivers, an Austin-based photography group, will be showing their work at The Contemporary Austin’s Laguna Gloria.
Barry Stone, member of Lakes Were Rivers, said that never before have so many artists from all over the world brought together their different ideas.
“It’s so exciting to be a part of this,” Stone said. “It really marks a new beginning. It sets a high model for what’s possible here in Austin.”
Hammer Museum Features Susan Scafati photo as a Top Pick
September 3, 2015
Susan Scafati's photograph (top left) was among the favorite photos featured by The Hammer Museum. The photo captures a dancer in a room of Thomas Ruff portraits at the Perfect Likeness exhibition.
The Contemporary Austin offers a new "Art of Narrative Portraiture" class by Susan Scafati
August 19, 2015
We are excited to introduce a new class at the Art School, led by artist Susan Scafati! Scafati, part of the collective Lakes Were Rivers, will be exhibiting in Strange Pilgrims, opening at The Contemporary on September 27.
View details about this unique opportunity below, and be sure to check out Scafati's vibrant Instagram: http://bit.ly/1E5H9uq
ART OF NARRATIVE PORTRAITURE
Instructor: Susan Scafati
Tuesdays 9/22-12/8, 6-8pm, Jones Center
Students will make work responding to and deepening their engagement with Austin while thinking about the ways in which the art of portraiture influences the perception, myth, and reality of individual and cultural identities. This class will focus on creative portraiture from a philosophical, narrative, contemporary, and conceptual framework rather than a technical or traditional standpoint. This class is suitable for intermediate to advanced artists committed to using photo-related approaches in their work.
IMAGE: View of Doug Aitken's portrait of Chloe Sevigny; courtesy of Susan Scafati as she seeks inspiration for her upcoming class!
The Contemporary Austin Introduces a new "Art of Narrative Portraiture" class by Susan Scafati
Under the guidance of Susan Scafati, an artist in the collective Lakes Were Rivers (whose work is on view as part of The Contemporary Austin’s Strange Pilgrims exhibition in Fall 2015), students will make work responding to and deepening their engagement with Austin while thinking about the ways in which the art of portraiture influences the perception, myth, and reality of individual and cultural identities. This class will focus on creative portraiture from a philosophical, narrative, contemporary, and conceptual framework rather than a technical or traditional standpoint. This class is suitable for intermediate to advanced artists committed to using photo-related approaches in their work.
Some inspirations pictured: Meredyth Sparks, Katy Grannan, William Wegman, Miwa Yanagi, Nan Goldin.
Austin, Texas-based contemporary art photographer Susan Scafati recently shot portraits during South by Southwest (SXSW) — the annual music, ﬁlm, and interactive festival — from her hometown neighborhood in Austin, Texas. “This is one of my favorite experiences in Austin,” Scafati says. Scafati is drawn to the way that the city transforms itself into a mecca of festival theater performance. The blurring of public and private spaces and personas, marketing and reality, and local and global inﬂuences, turn a handful of blocks into a dramatic stage. Scafati photographed portraits of celebrities such as composer Graham Reynolds, House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, dancers, performance artists and inventors...
Lakes Were Rivers in "Strange Pilgrims" Exhibition, Contemporary Austin museum
(excerpt from museum brochure)
Organized by The Contemporary Austin's Senior Curator, Heather Pesanti, this highly anticipated curatorial project will be the museum's first multi-site, thematic group exhibition. It will advance the Contemporary Austin's commitment to serving as a "museum without walls" by activating the entirety of both sites, as well as the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Some of today's most innovative contemporary artists, including Trisha Baga, Ayse Erkmen, and the collective Lakes Were Rivers, are creating new, site-responsive installations for this exhibition. Strange Pilgrims will also showcase existing works by influential artists such as Bruce Nauman and Yoko Ono, and distinguished institutions, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, have agreed to lend work for the exhibition.
Exhibition will run September 26, 2015 - January 24, 2016
Susan Scafati Shoots for @ilovetexasphoto
Susan Scafati shoots environmental portraits of local Austinites - including a Roman violin-maker; a construction worker from Guanajuato, Mexico; a street artist creating sculptures out of aluminum tin foil; a guitarist playing a gig on Sixth Street; a shoe-maker carrying on a 50-year career; an Arab-American mother group visiting the Capitol; tatoo artists and co-founders of a non-profit helping women retire in northern India; a Germany native record-holding Olympic running champion; an elderly Mexican-American immigrant praying at Saint Mary Cathedral; a balloon girl on Rainey Street; a Russian multimedia artist; an East Austin muralist; a self-proclaimed "pool-hunter"; and more.
Top Ten Photographers, Photo District News online/ Photoserve
... Susan Scafati featured in the Top Ten Picks by Photoserve of Photo District News (PDN) online, the award-winning monthly magazine for the professional photographer....
The East Austin Studio Tour Top Picks, Austin American Statesman, byJeanne Claire van Ryzin
November 14, 2014
...In different yet not dissimilar styles, photographers Elizabeth Chiles and Susan Scafati each create images that poetically play with perception...
Elizabeth Chiles and Susan Scafati, two Austin-based Visual Artists, are exhibiting new work in conjunction with the East Austin Studio Tour [EAST]. They are studio mates and members of Lakes Were Rivers (LWR), an art collective that has won numerous awards and accolades ... Scafati will be exhibiting selections of her current project-in-progress, "Domestic Blisses" — a whimsical, yet ironic, reclaiming of beauty and romance in the American domestic space through the colorful abstraction of materials inhabiting our environment, such as Windex, tin foil, play-doh...