Susan Thacker (b. 1952) is a New York based artist from Los Angeles, California. After receiving a BA in writing from UCLA, she held various creative positions in the film, television, and music industries before launching a studio practice in the 90’s. Concurrent with raising three children, she studied painting and design, established inaugural children’s programs at both SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) and Otis College of Art and Design, and exhibited her work internationally.

The artist lives in Manhattan and works out of her studio in Rhinebeck, New York.

Susan Thacker

Artist Statement

Susan Thacker

"I was a writer of short stories before becoming a visual artist, and drew as many pictures in the margins of my paper as words on the page. Painting liberated me from a linear narrative structure. Some stories have no ending; others have many. Most stories are written and read between the lines.

Raised within the Baby Boom generation, I have a voyeuristic interest in crowds. From the cradle to the grave, we march in and out of institutions barely built in time to accommodate our numbers. Like an assembly line, we are defined in multiples and repetition. Individualism is negated en masse; the crowd emerges with its own identifiable personality. With conformity as the norm, I subversively resist.

In the aerial series, I hover over crowds, documenting their kaleidoscopic design. In other work, I employ repeating symbols such as house shapes, chairs, telephone poles and the circumpunct, a sacred, ancient “circle within a circle” symbol, to embellish larger themes.

Teaching art and architecture to children naturally informed my style. Children gravitate to color, and render what they see from multiple vantage points, fusing architectural “plan” and “elevation” perspectives, eschewing horizon lines. They communicate thought and emotion with pre-verbal primitive markings. This is not unlike cave dwellers who documented prehistory drawing on walls. That raw energy inspires my own art-making practice."


1974 BA, Writing, University of California, Los Angeles
1982-1983 UCLA Extension, Interior Design Studies
1999-2004 Otis College of Art and Design (Painting)
2006 Artist in Residence, Big Sur (sponsored by The Big Sur Land Trust and the Big Sur Arts Initiative)
1999-2004 Founder/Instructor/ Coordinator, Young Artist Workshops, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA
1999-2005 Scenic Painter, The Buckley School, Sherman Oaks, CA.
2000-2001 Art Instructor, Boys and Girls Club of Venice, Venice, CA.
2001 Curator, Children's Photography exhibit, Corbis Images, Westchester, CA
1999 Art Instructor, YMCA, Westchester, CA.
1993-1994 Co Founder/ Instructor, KIDS-Arc (Architecture Workshops for Children, SCI-Arc, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Everybody's Ocean, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA
2013 Fresh Canvas, Group show/Cancer Support Community, Santa Monica Museum, Santa Monica, CA
2013 The Lips Project, The Church Gallery, Monterey, CA
2012 Notre Combat, Museum at Nuremburg, Nuremburg, Germany
2011 Flows to Bay, Group show, Museum of Monterey, Monterey, CA
2011 Local Artists, Group show, Carmel Art Institute, Carmel, CA
2011 Notre Combat, War Memorial Museum at Caen, Normandy, France
2011 Group Exhibit, Gallery Barndiva, Healdsburg, CA
2010 Over And Above, Solo show at Studio Arts Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
2010 Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kampf, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA
2009 Found Object Sculpture, Fine Art Base, Sand City, CA
2008 Aerial Paintings, The Phoenix Shop at Nepenthe, Big Sur, CA
2007 Group Show, Unitard Gallery, Downtown Los Angeles, CA
2006 Solo Paintings Show, Anderson Miguel Fine Art Gallery, Healdsburg, CA
2005 Red Light/Green Light, Lauryn Taylor Gallery, Carmel, CA
2004 Evolution, The Process of Abstraction, group show, Bolsky Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA
2004 Juvenilia, group show at The Gardner Stages, West Hollywood, CA
2004 Bridgin' The Gap, The Glasshouse, Pomona, CA
2004 Home Is Where The Art Is, solo exhibition, private residence of collectors Suz and Michael Rubel, Brentwood, CA
2003 G.A.S., Highland Grounds, Hollywood, CA
2003 F.B.I., Solo exhibit, New Mart, Los Angeles, CA
2002 Found Object Sculpture, Bank of Venice, Venice, CA

About The Art

I first felt drawn to the bird’s eye view for the sheer joy of imagining I could fly, fly above the crowds.  Before drone photography rendered this perspective commonplace, I made up these gatherings of sunbathers, worshippers, revelers and farmers.  Their stories were my stories. Lately I’m less concerned with the trappings of the crowd, rather, what draws people together.  The Protest paintings were inspired by marches in New York City, where the impassioned masses were essentially a tightly knit assemblage of bodies and heads, dots within circles, a circumpunct, an ancient symbol for humans within a godly domain, the earth within the universe, the seed inside an apple, the symbol for gold.

Randomly chosen for inclusion in these paintings are obsolete things like old journal entries, telephone pages, outdated advertisements, doodles and sketches.  I mess with pattern, I call up symbols to alchemically draw a picture out of time and place.

A marriage of reality and altered design, this series both erases and celebrates the borders of a photograph, the parameters of a captured moment.  My mother was a photographer, my father a professional illustrator and cartoonist.  Both discouraged me from pursuing the life of an artist.  Oh well…

The human impulse to document our physical and supernatural world is primordial.  When teaching children, I reference the Lascaux Cave paintings in France because I want to knock their notion of high art off its pedestal. 

The Nouveau Lascaux series began as large swaths of blank paper laid on the concrete floor of an Otis College of Art and Design studio where I taught children on the days immediately following the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Otis College is located right next to the runways of LAX International Airport, where the sounds of approaching planes are as ubiquitous as birdsong.  Nothing I could say in words could comfort more than the offering of color and paper.  The children (ages 5 -12) leaned into the work collectively from every side. I added my own marks to theirs and later mounted these documents to approximate the look of cave walls.


“Time flies over us but leaves its shadow behind.”  -Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Time is the longest distance between two places.”  -Tennessee Williams

“Time is like the wind, it lifts the light and leaves the heavy.”   -Dominico Estrada

“Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.”  -Dion Boucicault

I sensed an ennui of inexplicable proportion.  In the studio, my desire to create dueled ferociously with a call to abandon. I was a car coasting on four flattened tires. I decided to document this time —without fear, preconception or judgement.  Some days were longer than others.  As a support, I chose the kind of paper used as tarp by messy house painters. The titles are numbers that refer to the dates they were painted.

Three months later, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Stage 4.

To build a house, two types of drawings are essential: the plan or aerial view (what one sees from the air) and elevation drawings to describe the structure from the ground. In 2007, everything shifted when our house ceased to be a home, not destroyed by earthquake, rather, a divorce.  No longer grounded in familiar territory, my horizon disappeared.  Body and soul threatened,  I looked everywhere for guidance.

Inspired by 20th Century icons: Eadward Muybridge who documented motion in sequenced still photographs, and Hermann Rorschach, whose inkblot tests helped map emotional territory, I began to look at life in a different way. In the placement of  silhouettes, I call attention to both the positive and negative space of human coupling.

Room Necklaces

New world, no order.  Obsolescence.  What objects, thought, trends, and ideals can survive these Marie Condo times?  What is valuable? What is frivolous? What has beauty? What holds memory and wisdom?  What can you take on your back as you run from fire, wind, water and foe? The room necklaces address these thoughts: jewelry for a room, made of junk now broken and out of fashion, resurrected and reconfigured into “charms” strung on old rope or rusted chain.