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About Willow Tree Angels Designer, Susan Lordi

Willow Tree Designer Susan LordiSusan Lordi's inspiration comes from a love of family, closeness to friends, and an appreciation of nature. Her art is intimate and personal, reflecting that which helps us treasure our relationship to people and the world around us. Besides her work in mixed media and design, she is known for her innovative fiber art that has been exhibited internationally. A monograph of her work has been published in the Portfolio Collection by Telos. She is also featured in the book Art Textiles of the World: USA. Susan and her family live in Kansas City.

Interview with Susan

What do you want people to know about Willow Tree?

"I want people to come up with their own ideas of what a particular Willow Tree piece means. I try to keep Willow Tree open. There is no one correct interpretation. I hope that this makes the pieces more accessible, and more personal. I want to present a product that stimulates the viewer's thinking... that allows the viewer to become a participant in the giving or receiving. The viewer decides what the piece is really about."

What are you trying to convey in this line?

"At times, it's hard to find the right words to express what you want to say, and sometimes there just aren't any. For me, it's always been easier to communicate or express my feelings visually rather than verbally. That's what I want to do with Willow Tree. Give people a way to express an emotion or feeling that goes beyond words."

Why don’t your figures have faces?

"This ties into the viewer becoming more of a participant in the understanding of the piece. It makes it more personal for the giver and the receiver to envision what or whom they want. At the time I created Willow Tree, I had never seen it done before, except for my knowledge of Amish women who would sew dolls for their children. Because of their religion, they did not embellish the faces; I loved the simplicity and pureness of the way those dolls looked. It’s the perfect example of 'less is more' - what is missing can speak volumes. Simplicity of form is one of my guidelines."

Why do some of your figures carry things?

"I like to use animals or objects from nature, which can be metaphors for human experiences. These items can mean different things to different viewers. I try to give each piece another level of meaning that's not always obvious -- that the viewer can sense or imagine. For example, the rose on Love -- the stem blends into her body, so there's no separation between the object that she’s holding and her body -- the whole figure becomes a symbol of love -- not just the rose. Many of the pieces have this same blending of object and figure -- the rosemary in Angel of Remembrance and the pineapple in Welcoming Angel are two other examples."

How does your background influence your creativity?

"Growing up in a very huggy, extended Italian family; being a granddaughter, daughter, mother; giving birth. A supportive family. Experiencing healing. I think I craved doing something with the expressive power of the human gesture -- All of my notebooks from past lecture classes in school are filled with figures doing all sorts of things in between the lines of notes I was supposed to be taking. Now, after years of two-dimensional figure-drawing, I welcome the challenge to sculpt figures in three dimensions."

What has influenced the development of this line?

"Observing the human form, observing. Conversations, emotions, letters, stories, memories. Life experiences, crying, laughing really hard, loving, motherhood. My sisters. My children, my husband, my parents. True friends. My cat. Years of studying and drawing and observing. My children, nieces, nephews and friends have been the models for Willow Tree figures."

How did you come up with the name Willow Tree?

"The name Willow Tree directly reflects my love and reverence of trees; their graceful, columnar, beckoning, magical qualities. They have so much character and gesture. Trees are anthropomorphic—they possess human qualities. I carved a tree, a prayer as a metaphor for these 'tree-like' qualities we all aspire to: strength, beauty and peace. I love Willow Trees in particular as they are self-healing; they bend with the wind...



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