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Sue Cavanaugh, Conjoined Twins, Fabric with steel armature
B.S. and M.A. from Ohio State
Sue Cavanaugh is an artist living in Columbus, Ohio. Her work has been juried into national and international exhibits and won her an Individual Artist Fellowship in 2016 and a Dresden residency in 2012 from the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Since returning from her Dresden residency, she’s had six solo shows.
Cavanaugh works by hand with cloth, cord, dye, paint and occasionally wood and wire. She does this by hand and without assistants. Her work has been seen in national and international exhibits at the Columbus Museum of Art, Oceanside Museum of Art, Springfield Museum of Art (Ohio), Ross Museum of Art, Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum of Art, Ohio Craft Museum and Zanesville Museum of Art. Awards include Best of Show, Shibori Cut Loose exhibit, Textile Center, Minneapolis; Ruth Lantz Fiber Award; Janet Long Memorial Award for Excellence in Fiber; Ohio Arts Council Professional Award; and the Lynn Goodwin Borgman Award for Surface Design
In 2012 she was selected by the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the Free State of Saxony for an artist residency in Dresden, Germany. She worked in a studio at Geh8 Kunstraum und Ateliers for 80 days culminating in a two-person exhibit with Rotterdam painter Marielle Buitendijk.
Sue Cavanaugh is continuing her Corporate Skin series with 3-dimensional pieces using men’s white shirts and re-imagined cash. “Conjoined Partnership” uses two shirts, joined at the back. In a nod to the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, each appears to be stuffed, in this case with paper currency replacing straw. The Trump twin has cash with his image coming out of the neck and covering the smallish hands. Putin cash is used in the other. In lieu of hands, bear claws honor Mother Russia. With a quick glance the two may be confused since Trump cash appears in Putin’s pocket. The hand holding will likely never occur but may represent a Trump dream.
Are corporations people? Is money speech? Sue Cavanaugh doesn’t think so. For several years she’s been protesting the Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court decision with her art and a wicked sense of humor.
Most known for her work with fiber and installations, she has also done a book of cartoons, ”Corporations Are People Like the Emperor’s New Clothes Were Real.” She recently took up carving linoleum plates for linoprints, another medium that allows her to communicate her thoughts with a sense of humor Cavanaugh re-purposes the iconic white shirt to comment on corporate personhood, corporate influence on elections and money as speech. The stitching techniques grew out of many years of creating stitch resist shibori. With a nod toward the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, she suggests a kind of stuffing using cash instead of straw and referencing money as speech. This emphasizes the inhumanness of corporations, the lack of souls. In an era where political discourse often disintegrates into screaming matches, she wanted to deliver her opinion with humor.
“Conjoined Partnership” uses two shirts, cut up the backs and stitched together to form one shirt with two necks. One has cash with Trump’s face, the other with Putin’s face. The Putin side has bear claws suggesting Russia the bear. Hand holding among world leaders is a new phenomenon.
Cavanaugh’s first linoprint being exhibited is from her book of cartoons. “A bridgebuilder, a cockroach and a fencing corporation sing a Mexican Folk song” also addresses a border fence. Those who can read music will recognize the first notes of “La Cucaracha”. Cavanaugh plans transform other cartoons into linoprints for future shows.
Sue Cavanaugh, Columbus, OH
This work was the beginning of Sue's exploration of Corporations as People and politics in the U.S.