For many artists the work of creating involves weaving together images, memories, and inspiration. They often draw from life experiences and travel or find inspiration in the study of great works of art or studies they pursue.
Tampa based artist Susan Peloubet creates her artwork by gathering unique and handmade threads and yarns to be used in stitching designs that please her eye. She is in the habit of collecting threads and yarns that appeal to her in their colors or textures. The handmade wool that comprises the organic shapes of amoebas in her entry to the Annual Members Show at the Morean Arts Center were discovered in an open-air market in Chile. “We were there for a family trip to celebrate my son’s graduation. He wanted to take an adventure and go white water rafting. The woman who made the wool by hand was there. It appealed to me and without knowing what I would do with it I purchased it, knowing I would never find her or this wool or this moment again,” she explained.
Artist Susan Peloubet shares that the above piece, Anna Maria – Closed was a piece she did during the early phase of the Coronavirus Pandemic. “We were lucky enough to be secluded there for 2 months but everything in the City of Anna Maria was closed. The images are the outlines of the city map.”
Her mixed media work is neither weaving, nor tapestry nor stitchwork. Her artistic journey has involved experimenting with photography, clay, fabric dying, and printing. Yet she has always felt the pull of thread, the desire to make stitches through fabric or paper or whatever materials are at hand. Since childhood she has enjoyed pushing the needle through to interrupt the surface and breakthrough with a texture or color creating something entirely new. “I love doing it. I could do it 8-hours a day and I love how it comes out. I can make it my own and am not doing what everyone else is doing,” said Peloubet.
Peloubet was educationally trained as an accountant and holds an MBA. She worked in finance for a Florida Telecom company. But at the point where she was expecting their second child she transitioned to focusing on family priorities and her own creative callings. While she explored creating art in a multiple of mediums her family grew. Eventually Susan, her husband and three children, decided to adopt a 12-year-old boy, and as he reached maturity, she felt comfortable in focusing on her art. She has been active in the Morean Arts Center taking classes over a ten-year span and became an artist member about 4 years ago. In addition to classes at the Morean, she has refined her skills with master artist workshops at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee.
The Morean 20 x 20 exhibition was the first time that Peloubet worked so large. She usually works in a rectangular format but found the creative variation inspirational. She is currently working on a second piece of the same size. “I want to take an idea as far as I can take it. I want to keep stretching the boundaries. As a new artist I feel it is important that I do something that is not already being done. When I did photography and worked with other materials there was a restlessness that I felt in not doing something unique.”
In approaching the 20 x 20 design Peloubet retrieved the wool yarn from her treasured materials. “I had pulled them out many times before but it wasn’t the right design before.” Other firsts for Peloubet in this piece were stitching the yarn into closed end loops. “I usually work in a very linear manner. As I stitched the loops and they evolved on the page I loved the way it flowed,” she shared. “I’ve been fascinated with couching and this wool worked beautifully with the depth of the material against the paper.”
Peloubet contrasted the puffed-up texture of the wool from Chile with Japanese Shashiko threads in black and green and red thread she collected from Spain. While the threads may have global connections, that was not the artist’s focus. “I was drawn to the amoeba like shapes and wasn’t really thinking about what was going on globally. I was focused on the expressions of the shapes and textures on the page before me.”
Peloubet thinks the Morean does a great job of creating opportunities for artists to gather and learn and exchange. The Morean hosts the Annual Member Art Show each summer, a Member Holiday Show in the winter and member pop-up art shows like the recent Pelican Proud exhibition. The exhibitions are hosted in the galleries of the Morean Arts Center or Morean Center for Clay which are free and open to the public.