SUSANA ARCE DUBOIS
TEXTILE ARTIST AND DESIGNER
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I have a degree in Biology, but I have always been an artist by vocation. I have been attracted to textile art since i was very young. I found a great teacher, Carmen Escolano, early on and I attended her weekly classes for more than 8 years. Soon after I started attending classes, I rented a small workshop where I began to experiment with different techniques and to develop my own style.
My path as a designer and textile artist is long and varied. In the first phase, I created mainly paintings using the batik technique on cotton. One day I discovered silk and I fell in love with this medium. I’m passionate about painting on silk -which I have done for many years- using diverse materials, techniques and processes: batik, watercolour, antifussant, gutta, shibori, etc.
For me, silk is a gift of Nature. Its delicate elegance and softness make it the most unique material, and the best medium for artistic expression.The brilliance and luminosity of silk fabric allow me to create exclusive, special, nearly magical pieces. I would not be able to achieve the same effect on other media, such as canvas, paper, or other natural textiles. Painting on silk is mysterious and capricious. As you paint on it, it is the silk that ‘decides’, and many times the result surprises even the artist.
Colours are intense, alive and vibrant. The way they mix and merge on the silk is always different, always new. This is what makes this art so special. It is a pleasure to tense an immaculate piece of silk and to begin to paint on it, creating suggestive shapes that reflect my ideas and my feelings. That is why I chose the name Suhzo, which means silk in Chinese, and which expresses the essence of my work.
In 2005, I began to get in touch with textile artists in other European countries, especially in the United Kingdom. This resulted in interesting collaborations and I participated in amazing crafts fairs all over that country for a number of years.
In the UK, I discovered another technique which I am increasingly fascinated by, and which I currently use in an important part of my artistic work: nuno felting, which I create by felting 100% natural silk fabric with high quality unspun merino wool.
I have been fortunate to learn to create felt with some of the best teachers, such as Faith Roper or Liz Clay. I love the intensive courses taught by Liz Clay, well-known, award-winning Designer and Creator of Haute Couture in Felt, who has worked with many of the most iconic fashion labels, including Givenchy, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and Christopher Kane. I have been back to England a few times to keep on learning and exploring with her.
Hand-made felt is a soft, light fabric that adapts to the body and that is ideal for creating fashion accessories, decoration items or textile art. As a designer, it allows me to give texture to my work. I can combine different colours, draw and create different patterns and designs, use various fabrics in the same piece, or even insert beads and crystals, shells, plant leaves, etc. to obtain three-dimensional structures.
It also allows me to continue to use different silk fabrics as media -from the most light-weight and transparent to the most rustic and tightly woven. Silk also gives felt colours a luminosity that is not achievable with other fabrics, and I love being able to combine silk painting and nuno felt in the same piece to produce spectacular compositions.
A trip to Japan opened my eyes fully to the infinite possibilities of textile art, and I decided that it was finally time to dedicate myself fully to textile design and creation. Bit by bit, I began to cross the sometimes difficult to define line from craft to textile art, to dedicate myself fully to the latter.
All my pieces are completely handmade in my workshop in my native Madrid, and are unique and exclusive.
I am a member of the Asociación de Creadores Textiles de Madrid (ACTM Association of Textile Creators of Madrid), since 2009 and I was Vice-President for four years from 2015. I am also a member of the Guild of Silk Painters.
During these years, I have taught workshops, participated in fairs and pop-ups, given interviews and presented textile art pieces in exhibitions, in venues as diverse as:
Sala Espai La Galería, Terrassa – Solo Exhibition “Inhabited Words”, Curated by Estudio Tigomigo
China National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China, Global Qipao Invitational Exhibition – Collective Exhibition, Work: ‘Spring Dawn’
Momad, International Clothing, Footwear and Accessories Trade Show, Ifema, Madrid –– Participated with AMSE
Il Varco Interdisciplinary Workshop, Corniolo, Italia – Installation ’70 Heartbeats’ Series
La Quinta del Sordo, CoWorking Centre, TEXTILMAD, Textile Festival of Madrid – Collective Exhibition
Pabellón de Cristal de la Casa de Campo, Creative Fair – Creative Workshops
Museo del Traje de Madrid (Madrid Costume Museum), VIII Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art, World Textile Art Organization – ACTM Artists’ Meetup
Museo del Traje de Madrid, Exposición Temporal Museo a Mano (Costume Museum, ‘Handmade Museum’ Collective Temporary Exhibition) – Work: ‘Fairytale’
Museo del Traje de Madrid, Días Europeos de la Artesanía (Costume Museum, European Crafts Days) – Demonstration Workshops
Museo del Traje de Madrid, Diálogos con el Textil (Costume Museum, Dialogues with Textile Artists) – Interview
Centro Cultural Francico Fatou – ‘En Seda’ (‘In Silk’)’ Collective Exhibition
Sala de Exposiciones La Paloma – ’En Lana’ (‘In Wool’) Collective Exhibition
El Corte Inglés – Craft Workshop
If you want to find out more about my trajectory in the textile arts and crafts world, what inspires me, which are my favourite techniques and much more, you can watch this video of the interview I gave in the Museo del Traje de Madrid (Costume Museum, Madrid). The interview is in Spanish, but you can switch on the English subtitles.