“These paintings – although traditional landscapes on many levels – are mood driven personal examinations abstracted from nature. My inspirations are derived by the subtleties of weather, atmosphere, and extreme natural events.” – Suzanne Onodera
Suzanne Onodera speaks for The Interview Series, May 10, 2020 (Scroll down for more available work)
–How did you become an artist?
I cannot recall a time when the decision to be an artist was made either by myself or by someone else. I have always spent an absurd amount of time looking, seeking and turning the view around to see, and those observations are translated into paint. It is one way I communicate.
Even if I decided with all of my heart not to be an artist, I truly believe that would be my death.
-Was there a particular piece / body of work / experience that inspired you?
The last time I visited Paris was 1996. I was traveling with my mother and her boyfriend for six weeks and we were staying in Paris before departing to Cannes for the film festival. It was a hectic time because it was a family trip, filled with responsibilities and commitments. I remember there was a rare day when we had little planned and my mother and her boyfriend wanted to attend a concert at Notre Dame. I was hesitant because I was convinced in those days that recitals were not my thing.
But I went anyway.
The recital was a men’s chorus. What was performed? I cannot recall. But what I do remember was sitting in Notre Dame as the late afternoon light traveled through the windows, refracting and shifting and changing, and the tiny micro specks of atmospheric detritus hovered and sparkled in the light. The sound of the choir and the emotion in their song filled my soul. The music, the musty old but beautiful smells of Notre Dame, the light – everything – sent tremors down to every bone in my body. It was a spiritual experience beyond anything I have since witnessed. It embodied a pure sense of being alive. I think I cried for a week afterward.
At times when I am in the groove in my studio, doing my work, I can recall the same sensation.
–What images or things do you keep in your studio that influence your work?
I like images of nature, and of catastrophic events.
I’m also a fan of color and atmosphere so anything that I come by that has strange, foggy, creepy, sublime stuff stomping around, I clip it and put it in a big fat binder. I may not refer to these clippings for years. They are, instead, forever cataloged in my cluttered, cobwebby filled memory.
–What positive outcome do you hope will occur due to the pandemic experience?
In terms of my work: More silence and space to create and to be still.
In terms of everything else: I am hopeful that human beings can take a step back from the frenetic pace of what was, and instead find time to be still and silent and care for each other.
I have a strong connection to the landscapes in Northern California where I grew up and spent most of my adult years. Craggy coast lines, undulating mountain ranges, drifting fog banks, fire charred hillsides and the pools and rivers stricken by drought all find way into my work. Recently I relocated to the Northeast where the lush and changing land continues to influence my practice in ways I am still unsure. And although I am inspired by land, place and nature, all of my imagery is invented. It is detached from any historical or specific link to time or place. Ultimately, this work is about transcendental beauty and connectivity between humans and nature, and to the self and the sublime.