Suzanne McClelland

Suzanne McClelland has exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad since the early 1990s. Her practice includes large-scale paintings, works on paper and books, often extracting fragments of speech or text from various political or cultural sources and exploring the social, symbolic and material possibilities that reside within language. “McClelland’s pictures find their genesis in textual elements -- words and numbers. The artist considers writing as a form of drawing, especially as handwriting falls increasingly out of use, almost entirely replaced by typing. Her method of writing is born of careful listening, tethering sounds to language. The paintings seek to fill the perceptional gap between what she hears and what she reads. The artworks are synesthetically representational -- portrayals of the mechanical and verbal languages that permeate our surroundings. McClelland is conscious of her paintings’ two-dimensionality and the particular kind of reading it necessitates. They showcase a keen but unorthodox sense of form: one which resists the lure of beauty, employing interruptions in formal fluidity to develop a particular breed of legibility. They find part of their appeal in this difficulty: the abruptness, the willingness to obscure a piece of text or a shape, allowing the artist’s heard language to come to visual life. We rely on numbers to provide us with a sense of order, to give shape and meaning to something otherwise difficult to comprehend fully. These pictures explore the ways in which numbers and words affect and relate to human lives, particularly in light of the recent collapse of faith in facts, when mathematical projections and language itself are questioned.” (TB for team gallery, inc. 2013) McClelland has participated in the 1993 and 2014 Whitney Biennials and has been the subject of solo presentations at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Amy Smith-Stewart; The University of Virginia Museum of Art, curated by Jennifer Farrell; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, Philip Morris branch, curated by Thelma Golden. Her paintings are held in numerous public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Yale University Art Gallery, The Albright-Knox Gallery, and The Walker Art Center. She currently teaches as a Mentor in the Department of Visual Arts at Columbia University. She has been a faculty member in the Masters of Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts since 1997 and has been on the Board of Governors at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture since 1999. Recent publications include monograph “Suzanne McClelland: 36-24-36” with an essay contribution by Thierry de Duve, published by team gallery, inc. in 2016 and distributed by D.A.P., as well as “Knock Knock” and "Net Worth", both published by Space Sisters Press in 2018 with a text contribution for the latter by Amy Smith-Stewart.
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