Susan Blake

19″x24″; original collage on photograph; 2019


My collages are, literally, a deconstruction of their source materials: notably fashion and art history books, occasionally bible and porn magazines. I think of my collages as “arrangements” because I meticulously arrange and photograph them before pasting them down. In addition to creating an original pasted collage, I often make a dye sublimation print on aluminum of the arrangement because I like the unique aesthetic of this process and how it transforms the look and feel of the original.

I am interested in clothing throughout the history of art and culture, and, am particularly drawn to Baroque art in which flowing draperies serve less as functional garments and more as seductive artifice. In my current collage series, “The Willing Suspension of Disbelief”, I create shrouded figures from images of draped cloth and set them against the stormy backdrops of my own cloud photographs which I print on Hahnemuhle rag paper. The figures are often headless, or, like the depiction of many early Christian martyrs in religious art, in the process of losing their heads.

My work is a response to and inspired by current fashion in which the head and body is obliterated by floods of cloth. Emotionally, my collages are about the ecstasy of faith. They are about the dark bliss of denial in a present-day political climate that renounces science and factuality with a ready desire to surrender to an ideology, even to the detriment of one’s self interest and the common good.


The most significant influence on my collage work is the blue collar Catholic neighborhood of the South Side of Chicago where I grew up. Attending daily mass before school was a mandatory ritual and as a youth I was awed by the dark macabre beauty of our old cavernous church. That early experience informs my recent collage images of the heavens, ascension and spiritual surrender.

In high school, I worked at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago during summers and on weekends. This provided a fantastic cultural epiphany and a gateway to practicing art because I could take art classes for free plus had ready access to an adjacent world class museum. I began my design career straight out of high school by landing a job in the art studio of a greeting card manufacturer, Grant Publishing Corporation. Later, I studied visual art and art history both at the Art Institute of Chicago and Northern Illinois University, where I was awarded a university fellowship and received my Master of Arts degree.

After practicing commercial design and photo illustration in Chicago, I am now a full-time fine artist living in Denver Colorado. I work in the fields of photography and painting as well as both analog and digital collage. My love of textiles and clothing in art history and fashion is a thread that unites all my artwork. I exhibit with Rule Gallery in Denver and have shown with the Denver Collage Club at Alto Gallery.


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14″x11″; original collage on photograph; 2019
14″x11″; original collage on photograph; 2019
16″x12″; original collage on photograph; 2019
20″x16″; original collage on photograph; 2019