UPHOLDING THE LEAFY CANOPY
The work of Susan Hensel has many branches, all attached to the tree of literature. On one branch can be found the intense works she calls literary sculptures. These works grew out of a love of poetry and a curiosity about how individuals retain and maintain creativity in spite of, not because of, personal obstacles. She has studied the lives, personalities, beliefs and literature of Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, D.H.Lawrence, Sappho and others. The sculptures are a culmination of the research, a summing up of the personalities and lives that shaped the poetic output.
Another branch of the tree is the work she calls narrative sculpture. In these the stories are told through visual metaphor and text. These multimedia works use words, visual metaphors, touch and often the senses of smell and hearing. The story is revealed uniquely to each visitor when they manipulate the items.
The final branch of this tree is her one of a kind and limited edition artists books. Susan investigates the book as object and literature. She is able to tap into the power of the cultural icon known as "Book". For her, "Book" represents preservation and dissemination of knowledge, values and beliefs. "Book" contains the history of the revolution of human knowledge with the inventions of writing, of papermaking, of binding, of printing. "Book" contains the piquant intimacy of journals, the innocence of childhood stories and the intellectual rigor of the university. "Book" contains the two-dimensional, the three dimensional and time. "Book" is performance art, flexible, mutable, both flowing and static,open and closed and full of meanings stated, implied or inferred.
Ultimately, the branches all hold up a leafy canopy, a complex, mutable array of parables, memoirs, invented lives, examined lives and curious stories with mysterious meanings that are new for each individual who chooses to sit among the leaves.