Susan Martin Maffei is an internationally known tapestry artist . Her background includes art studies at The Art Students League in NYC, tapestry training at Les Gobelins in Paris, apprenticeship and commission work at the Scheuer Tapestry Studio, NYC and conservation of antique textiles at Artweave Gallery, NYC.
She has been designing and weaving her work professionally since 1985. She has taught, lectured and exhibited in galleries,art centers, museums and universities in the U.S. and many countries abroad and has work in both public and private collections. She has maintained a professional studio in Manhattan for more than 25 years.
When did you feel your art became your own?
Thoughts and ideas are always personal and individual. It is the follow up and the doing that really makes them your own. I found with tapestry that I had many images in my head and it was when I took the leap and got the tools (which is about learning the process not accumulating equipment) and with much practice I could put those ideas into the form I visualized and feel that my expressions were satisfied.
When did you feel you found your own artistic voice?
From a very early age I was supported and encouraged by the women in my family to have an open creative freedom of expression. I have always loved to draw, construct, and repair and make textiles.
I believe everyone has an artistic voice and it may be expressed in different ways depending on circumstance and opportunity. Having a passion for something stimulates those creative genes and tapestry has been my passion over the last quarter century.
I have been very lucky to have good opportunities in education, work and family and a good sense of discipline required to make it all come together.
Travel is a reflection on my Grandmother who was a great textile person and so a great influence on my life. That was completed in the early 90's. View from 252 is about the view from our studio on 31st St NYC across the street from Madison Square Garden, the main post office and Penn Station. It is a reflection of the influence of living in the city with millions of others and was completed in the late 90's.
Was there any influence in your life that you felt that pushed your work to another level?
Influences have been many. Besides those already mentioned previously, here are a few. Having great workshop teachers at the start of my journey, Mary Lane, Michele Mesnage and perhaps the couple who have influenced me the most, Jean Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie.
Being able to work in a tapestry studio early in my career (Scheuer Tapestry Studio NYC), which gave me the day-to-day practice to develop my technical skills. Opportunity to attend both the Art Students League in NYC for formal drawing instruction and acceptance at Les Gobelins in Paris for 3 terms of a foreign student scholarship for perfection of techniques.
Certainly my partnership with Archie Brennan which allows me to share my passion and I think that living in New York city with all of its energy and strengths has provided experiences that have opened my horizons. Now that we have moved from the city and live upstate overlooking the Hudson River, I am hoping that will provide the next leap.