Local artist and Ohio State alum Sue Cavanaugh became a Wexner Center member for a simple reason: “Great contemporary art. Exhibitions at the Wex make me want to be a better artist and unleash my creative energy!” She was particularly inspired by William Kentridge: 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès, on view here in 2006. “Kentridge’s films transferred me to a magical world where time goes backward as well as forward—pure genius.” Sue considers the Wex a significant resource for artists in Columbus. “It’s important to know what is happening now in the arts,” she says, and “the Wex brings world-class contemporary art to us. How cool is that!”
Sue also credits the Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council for being steadfast supporters of local artists. In 2012 she was awarded a prestigious GCAC Artist Exchange Program residency in Dresden, Germany, which culminated in a joint exhibition with Rotterdam-based painter Mariëlle Buitendijk.
Currently Sue’s studio is housed in the 400 West Rich Street complex. “I love the interaction with other artists, and the space itself inspired my latest exhibition, Gathering III” (on view in the complex’s Promenade Gallery Aug 5–Sept 26, 2015). The eight installation works collected in the exhibition flowed off the walls and worked with the contours of the 105-year-old building—not unlike Sheila Pepe’s site-specific work Put Me Down Gently (hover & slope), featured in Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present at the Wex last spring.
With the works in the 400 West Rich exhibition, Sue explains, “I wanted to respond to this industrial space. I wanted cloth to flow like water, escaping its original form…in the way that creative energy seeps through the space.” For an idea of the scale at which Sue works, Ori-Maki-Kume #3—a new piece created especially for the exhibition—is 10 1/2 feet wide, 68 feet long, and dropped 18 feet from the ceiling. Many of her pieces incorporate a variety of found fabrics—sourced from thrift stores and flea markets—which she later dyes and reconfigures by hand, often using her own take on traditional Japanese shibori tie-dyeing techniques.
Represented by Muse Gallery in German Village, Sue’s work has been exhibited at the Columbus Museum of Art, the Cultural Arts Center, the Springfield Museum, the Ross Museum, the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, the Ohio Craft Museum, and the Zanesville Museum, among other venues. Her pieces are in the collections of the Hilton Columbus downtown, the Ohio Arts Council, and in private collections in Ohio, New York, Washington, New Mexico, and Tennessee.