Suze Woolf’s work is about human relationships to nature. A painter she explores a range of media from watercolor to paper-casting, from artist books to pyrography and installation--sometimes all together. Her background includes fine art, computer graphics and interface design. She has exhibited throughout the U. S. West and across the United States and Canada, received numerous art awards and held residencies in Zion, Glacier, Capitol Reef and North Cascades National Parks, as well as the Grand Canyon Trust, Banff Centre, Vermont Studio Center, Willowtail Springs, Jentel, PLAYA, Centrum, Mineral School and Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. Her work is represented in both private and regional public collections. Her installation “State of the Forest,” based on 14 years of painting individual burned trees, is currently part of the Environmental Impact II tour ( 2019-2023).
"Splintered," varnished watercolor on torn paper mounted on laser-cut polycarbonate & shaped matboard, 52in x 25in, 2023. An ancient burned juniper from the new BLM wilderness area Oregon Badlands.
"Core Values," fabric installation of knit/felted tree cores, woven ice cores, dyed and quilted sediment cores, dimensions variable, up to approx. 18 sq ft, 2023
"Carved Out with Fire Pit," tree: Varnished watercolor on torn paper mounted on shaped Gatorboard with wood hanging cradle. fire pit: black paper, rocks, spray-painted gas pump handle, empty propane tank, coal, insulator, corn cobs, 2022. barbed wire, model airplane, model semi-truck and model oil tanker railroad car added 2023
"Logged, Drifted and Burned," varnished watercolor on torn paper mounted on shaped foam core with wood hanging cradle, 52in x 25in, 2023. washed-up log found on Newskowin Beach, Oregon.
Raised and based in Seattle, I have watched glaciers shrink and burned forests increase across my home, the Pacific Northwest. At first, I painted beautiful intact landscapes but was increasingly compelled to portray their ecological disturbances: portraits of individual burned trees became my metaphor for human impact. Despite my anxiety, I also see unusual beauty. Fire-carved snags are all the same – carbonized, eaten away; yet each different – the fire’s physics and the tree’s structure create unique sculptures. Painting them is my meditation on climate crisis.
Recent expansions of the works have added a "fire pit" in front of the paintings, where the contents are blackened symbols of the largest carbon-emitting sectors: energy production, transportation and agriculture. "Core Values," a "craftivist" installation of hand-made fabric ice, sediment and tree cores, adds speculative, future layers to a scientific data set that only shows the past. Some of the simulated tree cores are burned, some have insect pathogens, some grow faster and some become dimensional lumber; according to OSU’s Dr. Beverly Law, there is more carbon stored in a burned forest than a logged one.
more from Suze's perspective
The first encounter with the log that was the model for Logged, Drifted & Burned on Newskowin Beach while a 2023 artist-in-residence at Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. photo credit: Orchidia Violeta
Suzee and friend Chris Moore hiking through the 2021 Cedar Creek burn as she admires the totem that eventually became the painting Burned at the Roots. photo credit: Steve Price.
Suze installing After the First Death, a temporary winter installation of the painting After the First Death wrapped around a living tree near Mazama, Washington. photo credit: Ruth Nielsen