About Willow Tree
Angels Designer, Susan Lordi
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
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
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
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
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...