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Susan Levi-Goerlich

Susan Levi-Goerlich


Artist Work

Staudengarten daylilies
Yellow vineyards
three birds
autumn trees and grasses
rust and green abstract
many roads

Artist Information

Howard County
Artistic Category

Visual Arts

Artist Statement

My fiber artwork celebrates color, texture and the myriad possibilities that fiber offers to "paint" an image using fresh and unusual techniques. I have two bodies of work: stitched paintings and paintings in fiber. My stitched paintings meld an ongoing passion for gardening with painted silks and free-motion machine embroidery. As the first step in a multi-step process, I paint different weaves of pure silk. Then, using my forty year-old (non-computerized!) sewing machine as a drawing tool, I blend and mix colors by layering threads. I create painterly effects through thousands of stitches and achieve rich textures by fluidly and continually shifting the fabric under the rapidly moving needle. The imagery is inspired by landscapes and gardens encountered during my travels, and by favorite photographs. My paintings in fiber are a combination of dyed and hand-painted silks, layering and needle-felting. I incorporate different weaves of pure silk to "paint" the image; each shade of color is a different piece of fabric. I assemble the work without adhesives or stitching; I use barbed needles, traveling over and through the multiple layers in order to tangle the fibers, fuse the fabrics and blend the colors. I may add details with free-motion embroidery and/or with bobbin embroidery. I use both bodies of work to explore the effects of layering fabrics, threads and yarns in order to create depth, rich color and texture. I have long been fascinated with layering as a method to enrich both surface and meaning. Movement and flow of color play an important role in my work, as do shadows and reflections.

Artist Bio

I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I studied Art and Psychology at the University of Maryland.  I created my first stitched painting in 1984 while I was completing my law degree at the George Washington University.

I began selling my fiber artwork when I moved to Munich in the 1980’s. My work was designed from a combination of painted silk and sewing machine embroidery, and was primarily landscape imagery, inspired by the German countryside and the park near my home. Stitching played a primary role in my early work and I used the sewing machine as others would use a pencil or paintbrush.

Upon my return to the USA, the landscape imagery gradually gave way to more abstract work. For several years I worked almost exclusively with non-representative imagery, manipulating the richly colored silk using machine embroidery, layering, strip-weaving, appliqué, and cut-away appliqué.

An interest in gardening led my work to again become more representational. My current work utilizes garden imagery in combination with free-motion machine embroidery. My fascination with layers, which manifested itself in my more abstract work, has been expanded to include layering threads and yarns to create depth, rich color and texture.

In the past several years, I have begun to revisit my interest in silk collage. Landscapes created from layers of richly colored and felted silk, and abstract images with bold patterns, subtle color changes and striking color combinations are the result of my current explorations.

Since 1988, I have exhibited and sold my work at national and regional craft shows as well as in craft and art galleries throughout the United States. In 1999 I was the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award.  In 2001 my work was featured on HG-TV’s Sew Much More. I currently work full time as a fiber artist, which I balance with volunteer responsibilities as a University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener and Community Garden board member.