Women's History of Art

Emily Dickinson In Her Underwear

Wonder Woman

Susan Arena



Artist Statement

I am haunted by the time I spent living in Cairo, Egypt, in the late 1980s.  I was forever touched by the beauty and grace of the culture there, but also by a quality of dogmatism and brutality.  Visual dichotomies run through all my work. 

While we all live in the real world, there is, undeniably, another world—an internal dream world of symbols, myth, and religion. In that sense every culture (from ancient to modern) projects, outwardly, its internal psyche and attempts to hack, draw, or carve it into existence. 

Sexuality and specifically women’s sexuality is at the root of many of our most potent symbols. From the Venus of Willendorf,  to Kim Kardashian, women’s bodies are at the center of how cultures define themselves, their sense of beauty and of worth. Whatever a woman accomplishes, she must reckon with her physicality and her relationship to the male gaze in the world, in art, and in her dream life.  

My recent work uses watercolor and acrylic paint collaged with nostalgic images from 70’s pornography.  These disparate images and materials create a jarring visual space that corresponds to disruptions across time and meaning.  Hopefully, employing assemblage of materials and of images opens up some room for humor fused with subjects that are simultaneously deadly serious.