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About Suzanne

Suzanne Herbert-Forton's picture
I have been a working artist in Baltimore for over 20 years. I create mixed media pieces using hand embroidery, ceramics and found objects. The work is inspired in part by the artisans of the middle ages, and by my Russian orthodox heritage. My background in fiber arts and abiding interest in costuming has also led to years of work in theater. I have enjoyed sharing my skills, working with children and adults teaching in a wide range of settings, from recreation to regular classroom. I have... more

recent work

These pieces take as an initial inspiration, Byzantine and Medieval art. They mutate from there. My work has always combined my love of embroidery with my abiding interests in theater, history, and a good story. I also have a lifelong habit of collecting odd bits of stuff. I see an object on the ground and think, "I can make something out of that!" My studio is filled with jars, boxes, and drawers of collected objects.
In this series of works I have determined to put those collections to use. The circuit boards from dead electronics have become the Emerald City. Old keys have been incorporated into my musings about what it means to be secure. The mosaic frames are formed from broken dishes found in a stream. I have been letting my mind wander where it will go.

  • Emerald City

    hand embroidery set in frame composed of circuit boards and plexi glass on wood support. 27"h x 24.5"w x 3"d
  • Homeland Security

    hand embroidery set in mosaic frame composed of found objects and hand built ceramic components. 23"h x 16"w x 1.5"d
  • Dolls and Dishes

    hand embroidery set in mosaic frame composed of found objects and hand built ceramic components 23"h x 18"w x 2"d
  • Iron Madonna

    hand embroidery, beading, set in hand built ceramic frame on wood support. 24"h x 19"w x 3"d
  • Articles of Faith-closed

    outer case of piece -hand built ceramic tile in wooden case 16"h x 11"w x 3"d
  • Articles of Faith-open

    hand embroidery, found objects set in tins, in wooden case. It was inspired by a 14th century reliquary case. 16"h x 22.5"w x 1.5"d
  • Articles of Faith-detail

    detail of embroidery
  • Black and White-detail

    detail of hand embroidery

recent works

Madonna series

At an early age, I became enamored of byzantine icons and medieval manuscript paintings. My pieces have always reflected this influence. Over the years my work has developed a certain style, but the content has been rather eclectic. My goal for the past few years has been to create a more cohesive body of work. I have also wanted to revisit the artworks and art history that inspired me to follow this path.
Four of these works are a continuation an exploration of Madonna icons. They are styled after a traditional icon form known as the Virgin of the Sign, or Virgin Orans. This icon traditionally depicts the infant Jesus in a medallion over Mary's heart. I have used the form as a starting point. Looking at them as a group, I suppose they are musings on the different things that are at the heart of one's life at different times.
"Lula" represents another diversion on this path. I have embarked on a concurrent series of portraits of ancestors and deceased loved ones as icons of saints.

  • Lula

    Hand embroidery, appliqué, beading in hand built ceramic frame on wood support.23"h x 21"w x 2"d Lula was my Mother's paternal grandmother. She made her living as a seamstress. She also crocheted amazing costumes for dolls. I never knew her, but she seems to have had an influence on me.
  • Lula- detail

    Detail of embroidery and beading.
  • Virgin of the Sign

    Appliqué, embroidery, beading set in hand built ceramic frame on wood support. 20"h x 14"w x 2"d I clearly suffer from the common affliction of artists- I can't throw anything away. This piece is composed primarily of small bits of silk. I really have a hard time trashing silk. The silk worm died for this stuff after all, so I hate wasting any of it. This Madonna is the first of the Virgin of the Sign series.
  • Virgin of the Sign, detail

    Detail of embroidery
  • Virgin of the Trinity

    Hand embroidery, appliqué, on muslin. Set in hand built ceramic frame on wood support. 21”h x 13”w x 2”d Another effort to use up little bits of silk, while pondering variations on iconography.
  • Virgin of the Singer-detail

    The background of this piece is inspired by the patterns in gold covered gesso one finds in some medieval images.
  • Virgin of the Singer

    Hand embroidery on muslin. Set in hand built ceramic frame with found objects. 14”h x 9”w x 2”d In addition to creating my own work, I spend a great deal of time doing theatrical costume work. Here is a Madonna to watch over the workshop.
  • No More Eggs in the Basket-detail

    detail of embroidery and clay
  • No More Eggs in the Basket

    “No More Eggs in the Basket”- hand embroidery on muslin. Set in hand built ceramic frame. 18”h x 13”w x 2”d A little musing on creativity and the progression of life.

additional recent work

These pieces take as an initial inspiration, Byzantine and Medieval art. They mutate from there. My work has always combined my love of embroidery with my abiding interests in theater, history, and a good story. I also have a lifelong habit of collecting odd bits of stuff. I see an object on the ground and think, "I can make something out of that!" My studio is filled with jars, boxes, and drawers of collected objects.
In this series of works I have determined to put those collections to use. The circuit boards from dead electronics have become the Emerald City. Old keys have been incorporated into my musings about what it means to be secure. The mosaic frames are formed from broken dishes found in a stream. I have been letting my mind wander where it will go.

Connect with Suzanne

Suzanne's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.