Artist Profile - Susan Bennerstrom
Susan Bennerstrom grew up in an old farmhouse in the woods in undeveloped Bellevue. She drew, painted, and constructed things continuously throughout childhood. She studied art and art history at WWU from 1967 to 1970, at which point she dropped out and hitchhiked for six months in Europe in order to go to museums and fill her head with art. Travel continues to be an essential part of her process, re-igniting her imagination and passion for the visual world. Finishing her degree felt like unfinished business, and she returned to WWU in 2018 to complete her BFA. She studied African textiles, and was invited to present her research paper at a conference at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
Susan has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, and has received a number of awards, including a Pollock-Krasner Award, a Ballinglen Arts Foundation Fellowship, a Betty Bowen Special Recognition Award, and three Artist Trust GAP Awards. WWU’s Western Foundation has established The Bennerstrom Prize, a scholarship given each spring to an outstanding art student.
Since the early 1980’s Susan’s passion has been the exploration and depiction of light. Covid 19 turned everything upside down. Artists have had to rethink their purpose. For Susan, it caused a desire to be engulfed in space and light, and to put this feeling on canvas. The paintings represent a slowing down, and an acknowledgement of light as a way of connecting with a realm beyond the tangible and physical.