Susan Seubert

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American, b. 1970

Susan Seubert was born in 1970 in Indianapolis, Indiana and is an active fine art and journalism photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Her provocative imagery has earned her critical acclaim with inclusion in the Portland Art Museum's 1999 and 2001 Biennials and the 2009 Tacoma Art Museum's Northwest Biennial. In 1999 Columbia University awarded Ms. Seubert an Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for her magazine work. Most recently, Ms. Seubert received an International Photography Award for her piece entitled, "Nest," a study of wild bird nests rendered in ambrotype. Exacting in her preparation and printing, she is a master with the antiquated techniques of silver gelatin, platinum, tintype and wet plate collodion. She is also extremely proficient in all aspects of digital imaging. Since receiving her BFA in photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1992, Seubert has exhibited continuously in the United States and abroad. She was featured at Houston Center for Photography in 1997, and included in exhibit at Exit Art (New York) in 2001. She continues to regularly contribute to such publications as National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times. Most recently, Ms. Seubert has been acknowledged as a photography expert by the National Geographic Society and is leading two expeditions this fall down the Columbia River Gorge aboard National Geographic's Ship the Sea Lion.


The title of this series of images, "Memento Mori," comes from the name given to post-mortem photographs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was popular to photograph the recently deceased. Literally, Memento Mori mean, "remember thy mortality." These tintype photograms of dolls and children's dresses appear to have an astonishing amount of volume. The open backs look sensual and feminine but simultaneously empty and void of life. The distressed and runny emulsion makes the plates look antique and adds a painterly quality to the print surface. Because the dress material is translucent, the images also have the qualities of an x-ray.


A study of a collection of wild bird nests, "Nest" is a group of twenty-five full plate ambrotypes. The processing artifacts from the wet plate collodion process create emotional characteristics. Swirling lines and apparent surface depth further emphasizes the individuality of each structure. That the images themselves are suspended on a glass surface underscored the fragility of each form. With this body of work, I am interested in investigating patterns in nature as well as the use of architecture in terms of instinct.