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Deconstruction To Simplification – Susannah Haddad Takes Us To A Calm Canvas

By Sumaiya Malik There is something about artist Susannah Haddad that makes people give her work a second look. At first glimpse, one is reminded of Henri Matisse’ Cut-Outs, but from that point on, Haddad’s solid color shapes and sculpture-like three-dimensional woodwork takes the viewer into the artist’s thought process, how she deconstructs and simplifies reality as perceived by her creative mind. Modern perfectionism comes to mind but in Haddad’s case the output is almost calm and simplified. “My brain goes a million miles a minute,” says Haddad while trying to explain how she takes it all in. “I craft what I am trying to say. I find myself thinking an overturning and coming out with short and simplified,” explains Haddad how she goes over information in her head so many times that she put out the gist of it almost like a conclusion of what she is processing. Growing up with two sisters, Haddad has been taking in a lot of information. Her father an immigration attorney originally from Iran and mother from the US brought two cultures and lots of travel to their lifestyle. High school years were spent at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School on South West Parkway under a teacher who encouraged self-expression and personal space. Haddad graduated in 2011 and went off to University of Georgia. There, by chance Haddad picked up a coffee table book about The Cut-Outs by Matisse. Her world went into a spiral and she started playing with the idea. “So I started playing with taking imagery of travel,” explained Haddad. A trip to Arizona left an impression of the magnificence of cacti and the colors of the rocks so deep in her mind that they became part of her and is seen in her exhibition. Her work reflects her travels and artists she is inspired by. When asked about ‘Ode to Georgia’, a piece in her exhibition inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, Haddad explained, “There is something about her determination, her isolation, her lifestyle [that] is intriguing to me,” said Haddad and added “ I get very determined when I set my heart to something; [O’Keefe’s] life is an inspiration to me.” By the time Haddad graduated, she had lived in Spain for a semester abroad, travelled all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, had been to Malta in the Mediterranean on a whim, gone to Iran, and visited Niece, France, to absorb Matisse. Upon return to the US, her travels continued with a visit to Santa Fe for Georgia O’Keeffe and to Mexico City for Frieda Kahlo. Kahlo became a subject of deep study for Haddad because of her interest in cobalt blue, a color common between the works of Matisse and Kahlo. Haddad was going places. After graduation (2015) she worked full time as a creative director for Kasita Smart Homes and soon after decided to freelance and move back to Austin. In this short span, West Elm and Urban Outfitters have showcased her work locally and she has collaborated with women’s non-profit Cherry On Top. “I want 100 people to have 100 different experiences with my art,” hopes Haddad as we summed up our discussion. Chances are they will, because the way her art is simplified in color and shapes, it leaves a lot to interpret. The noise is gone and what is left is a calm and restive place that gives the viewer a moment of peace. Perhaps that is what the artist is looking for herself as she takes in the complicated world. Susannah Haddad’s exhibit “A Deconstructed View” is on display at Dougherty Arts Center, 1110 Barton Springs Road from February 29 to April 25, 2020. Due to the Corona Virus pandemic and closure of the gallery, it can be viewed online at: Instagram | @susannahhaddad Her work is also on display on Facebook at: Beautify Today: An Art Auction

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