Susan Stewart

:: AGE

18

:: LOCATION

Bay Area, California, USA

:: MEDIUM

Illustration, graphic design, watercolor, painting, videography, film, photography

:: IDENTIFIES AS

Mexican American Womxn / Fluid

What inspires you to create?

Possibilities. To create something that hasn’t existed before and do something that is new. Our every day is going through school and careers and in this present society that we live in, it is easy to get stuck where you think, oh I have to do this and the next step is this and the next step is this and I feel like art is this really great amazing way to take a break from that and do something that is completely different. And some people think it’s a waste of time if it’s not an economic space but it’s a way that you can express and bring about social change. You can inspire people or you can just create and have that one moment to yourself of creation and I feel like that’s a really amazing space that art gives you. and then people can take it and make a living- you can sell it – you can use it as both an anti-hegemonic space and then within the hegemony be anti-hegemonic. Like if you’re selling it and you taking your art and sell it because you’re an artist and that’s what you do. I feel like the dominant narrative is that you go and become economically productive but you’re becoming economically productive by doing something that people don’t consider typically economically profitable these days. 

How do you define love?

I feel like it’s an experience you go through with time.

Why do you think it’s important for womxn of color to create art?

I feel like a lot of times we are often represented by others and it’s important to represent ourselves and with creation you’re creating a viewfinder through which people see. If I make a painting that is my viewfinder. That is my perspective that is how I look at whatever it is I’m doing. And other people get to look at that experience. I feel like often we are the subjects of the other’s gaze so I feel like it’s really cool as a woman of color to flip the tables around that and to create through ourselves. So flip the gaze I guess.

What is the space like that you create in?

Anywhere – on the trolley ride over here I was making doodles of my hand.

I can be introverted when I create so it tends to be me and whatever I’m doing, which is also very counterintuitive to video making.

What is your earliest memory of creating?

When I was little I loved to sing and dance on my own. So I guess my earliest memory was in my living room helping my mom clean up and blasting music and dancing around.

What advice do you have for young women who are scared to create?

I feel like I’m partially in that stage. The fear of exhibiting whatever it is that they’re creating. It’s very hard to label yourself an artist because of the way that label has been used in the past or the narratives that I’ve been exposed to and how they’ve explained artists. They’re like these divinely created individuals so I guess I would say start small. Just share with your fellow artist friends or just share with your friends. Don’t be afraid to post on social media. Don’t be afraid to take little steps and I feel like once you start making those connections people will see something that you don’t. Like when I show someone a video they’ll be like oh that’s great and I look at it and kinda cringe because I see all the things I think are wrong with it. I think it’s important to open up your abilities to the world – at least your immediate world and it will have a domino effect. People will find out in some way and you’ll be exposed, like someone might say oh there’s an art show going on, could you do this? Or someone has a band and they need cover art. I feel like it can open up an outlet that is more public

What do you do with art you don’t like?

With my videos it’s fun to go back and see how much I’ve grown and laugh at myself too with my drawings most of them I throw away but some of them I keep and it shows the roots of what I’m doing and sometimes it’s good to see progress…or sometimes I just dump it. I feel like you have to be able to create crap before you get into anything good.

If you have a daughter what do you want her to know about you? What would you want her to know about how you are at this point in your life?

I would want her to know to accept fear and the not knowing part of things. If I had a daughter, what would I want her to know? Hmmm…I feel like it’s really easy to get caught up in your own ideas of ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I don’t know what to create.’ I would want her to know that it’s okay to not know and be afraid of doing certain things and that shouldn’t stop her. And maybe reclaim femininity in whatever that means to her. Growing up in my early pre-teen, angry feminist stages I would be like no I don’t like dresses or I don’t like this or that because I thought those things were seen as lesser or like inferior or not as strong but I’d say reclaim whatever it is – that she enjoys even if it’s not particularly feminine and roll with it. You know what I mean? Reclaim whatever it is that’s her.

Susan, you are so rad and inspirational. It is an honor to feature your words and work in this project and we can’t wait to see what you create and produce next.