WV Artist Looks Forward to Arts Business Summit
Tamarack Foundation | October 8, 2018
When Susan Feller had a long weekend or when she just had had enough of all the billboards and cars around her New Jersey home, she and her husband would close down their art gallery, framing shop and drive to West Virginia.
South they would go until they reached Hampshire County, just 20 miles or so outside of Romney to the 29 acres of land they own. It looks like a sliver of pie running along a ridge-line. It’s a place the couple had bought in ’94, a place they planned to retire to, a place that would hold their log cabin home, a project they would proudly build by hand.
For years, the pair traveled south. And every time they made the long commute from their urban to rural home, Susan would get out of the car and look across the West Virginia hills. And every time, she said, she just felt different.
“I JUST IMMEDIATELY FELT THAT I WAS ROOTED HERE,” SUSAN SAID.
For the first 12 years Susan and her husband owned their West Virginia property, they weren’t yet full time residents, but weekend road warriors coming to get away. And every time they reached their West Virginia destination, Susan would walk around with new energy, almost like the mountains were giving back to her a feeling she once had growing up in the ‘60s in rural New Jersey. But then she’d get back into her car and drive north and that energy would wane and her New Jersey, work-focused brain would return.
In 2006 Susan and her husband moved to their mountain home for good and that feeling she had, it returned.
“I still have it,” Susan said. “…I think I can feel the energy that comes from the land, radiating into my body, my mind, my eyes. You’re looking at different things when you’re connected to the earth.”
Susan’s connection to place, to the mountains, the evergreens dotting West Virginia’s landscape is reflected in her work as a rug hooker. She’s been working in the medium since 1994, since she and her husband bought their home in West Virginia. She’s created rugs that have juried in exhibitions across the country, some are abstract, while others resemble a mountainside on a fall day.
“The basis of my artwork is communicating the wonder of West Virginia’s nature. I think my work is an ambassador of where I’m living,” Susan said.
For all the ways that the West Virginia mountains have inspired her, they’ve also isolated the artist from others.
CONNECT WITH SUSAN FELLER AT THE FOUNDATION’S ARTS BUSINESS SUMMIT, OCTOBER 12-13, 2018. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!
“As artists we need to do that because we are creating unique work. We do need to be within our own world, however that’s a negative when you’re in that frustrated blank canvas point,” Susan said. “Wouldn’t it be great to say I know someone who will get me beyond this point if we have a chat? That’s the opportunity in the Summit, to find people you can connect with.”
Tamarack Foundation’s upcoming Arts Business Summit on October 12-13 at Canaan Valley, which Susan is on the planning committee for and has been involved with shaping/planning since its inception, will host artists from across the state. During the two day event, artists will get to listen and participate during round table discussions covering a variety of topics and issues artists face in the Mountain State. The Summit will work to address the challenges artists’ face, while highlight opportunities as well as provide a space for artists to learn how to build actionable plans for improving their businesses.
But the aspect that Susan is most excited for, she said, is the chance to connect.
“WE’RE ARTISTS. WE NEED TO MEET. UNDERSTAND PERSONALITIES. PICK UP NUANCES FROM PEOPLE AND TRUST THEM,” SUSAN SAID. “I THINK IT’S THE FACE TO FACE CONTACT THAT THE ARTS SUMMIT WILL ALLOW US.”
Finding peers to share work and ideas with or finding mentors who have achieved good business practices or excellence in their work doesn’t just happen online, Susan said. It requires conversation and a desire to listen and to learn. And it’s that desire that will carry Susan from her ridge top Hampshire County home on October 12 to the Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center in Davis, West Virginia for the Tamarack Foundation’s Arts Business Summit.
To learn more about Tamarack Foundation’s Arts Business Summit and to register, visit https://tamarackfoundation.org/learn-new-skills/arts-business-summit/