Beauty in the Time of Ugly
In response to this ugly time we find ourselves, I decided to search for beauty so I could spend less time among the ugliness all around me. It began with a memory, a rose, and a coincidence that made me want to photograph the rose. It was April, 2020. We had been sheltering in place for a few weeks hoping to escape the dreaded virus that continues to hunt us down. Her peaceful color and lovely scent stimulated me to look around and notice the many signs of spring providing space the virus could not spoil. Beauty was all around me, creating the perfect place to dwell during this ugly time. Without thinking, I had been collecting beauty since the beginning of our lock down. A gift of tulip buds became a cheerful early morning subject to photograph in the cold, March light of my kitchen. I saw beauty in their opening and as they faded. Enhancing each final spring flower image with a lace overlay, adding the shine of color pencil, then mending with thread would complete my peaceful place of beauty and I now invite you to go there with me.
— Susan Hyde Greene, 2020
My Waterstories images are inspired by my lifelong fascination with the powerful emotional quality of water. Water gives and sustains life. It also takes life. Living on the Monterey peninsula adds another layer of complexity. Surrounded by water, appearing idyllic, it is ironic that we may be unable to sustain our way of living for lack of water, an odd year of heavy rain not withstanding. Despite heated debate concerning the cause of changing climate, every year we see with our own eyes increasing frequency of massive devastation caused by extremes involving water with few implemented plans for meaningful large scale action. As an artist whose work involves mending and piecing broken parts of images of the world around me back together, it is natural for me to explore the seemingly futile idea of using needle and thread to mend troubled waters, stitch by tiny stitch, in the hope that humans will one day come together with real solutions, thus assuring a future for succeeding generations.
— Susan Hyde Greene, 2017
Frozen in time with one picture. Who are these people, who did they become? A group of young women in the shadow of a young tree. The tree might still be standing but they have lived their lives. What did they witness besides a tree growing taller? A cat in a yard, an old bicycle wrapped as though to preserve the memory, a cat on a trash can. All photographed to remember one moment. A house, a flower and an image that might have been found in the attic of the house. Those women could not have lived in the house. Three little girls faces frozen in a moment…they lived their lives and people say one was at least doing what she loved, another is in a better place and the third might have lived a long life. How does anyone know those statements are true? Five little girls frozen in wax, four young girls shrouded in blue mysteriously gazing into this moment. One little boy angry at the world or just not liking having his picture taken. A mother and daughter looking like an older and younger version of the same person…just because of the way the heads tilt.
One picture, frozen in time. Sometimes that is all that is left as evidence of being. We are left to imagine the picture before and the one after as well as the people within.
— Susan Hyde Greene, 2017
November 2016 Aftermath
In the words of President John F. Kennedy carved into the front of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. “I look forward to an America of grace and beauty.”
Hope reflects my despair as I slowly awaken to this terrible new world. All I can think to do at this moment is hope. Hope that our country is stronger than one man, hope that I might effect even the smallest contribution to make one life better. Hope that art will continue to speak the truth. Hope that we will have the courage and the ability to fight to assure basic human rights for all humanity, securing a future for succeeding generations. As I slowly rally from the shock of our situation and ask Now What? a light begins to leak through the cracks as I envision artists throughout the world relentlessly using the language of art to come together for change, creating and assuring a better world for all people. Nothing less will make America Great Again.
— Susan Hyde Greene, 2017
State of Being
Ninety Years and More…..
While making images of my mother in the final stage of her life, I felt as though I was seeing her for the first time. She was the youngest of eight children and now is the only one left. I witnessed the sadness in her face and voice with each loss, felt even more deeply from having lost her own mother at the age of eight. Feeling helpless in the face of her decline, I was moved to explore her bewildered, frightened expression with my camera. She always noticed, and made a face of exasperation or possibly resignation when she saw me coming, camera in hand. Once, she almost smiled. Another time she asked who it was in the picture and declared “I’m old!” She sat and stared at the stranger’s face in the photograph. At what point do we stop working to be who we wish to be and just be, I wondered as I watched her.
— Susan Hyde Greene 2012
Haiku: Memento Vivre
They were missing her
Left in a jumble of trash
Remember to Live
— Susan Hyde Greene, 2010
I dream of a day when girls and women are free to be themselves, to go where they want to go at any hour, dress the way they want to and be anything they aspire to be. Including president of our country. Girls grow up then are often abandoned by our culture as fully realized humans just as they eventually abandoned their dolls and other playthings. Some say times are changing but we only need to be aware of the news or to look within our communities of friends and families to hear horrific stories of domestic abuse, campus sexual abuse that goes unpunished and worse, unreported because the schools take the side of the perpetrators and humiliate the victims hoping they will go away. Kidnappings of girls throughout the world, young girls snatched off the street and sold into bondage. Some kept as playthings for very cruel adults. Girls killed because they want an education. The list does not stop here. Solutions and change will only come from deep within our human culture. As an artist, I can use my creative voice to make images that might prompt someone to listen and find a path to long overdue action, resulting in change.
— Susan Hyde Greene, 2018
— Susan Hyde Greene, 2014