For some time Susanna Starr has worked exclusively with synthetic sponges, carving into them and filling them with liquid acrylic paint. Starr, whose art is about process, wanted to continue her exploration of this unusual material. Technically, her works are not paper, because they do not contain cellulose. However, she employed the same methodology as working with paper. Starr felt that papermaking with sponges was a natural extension of her work as sponges are made of cellulose, just like handmade paper. Like rag fibers, natural sea sponges were macerated into pulp and suspended in liquid. A little bit of abaca was added to this mixture to help hold it together. First, a layer of sponge pulp was moulded. Then Starr inked a hot glue drawing on plastic netting with a brayer and pressed it against the two-color sheet, printing and embossing the designs of her sculptures. Finally, she inpainted the right image with gold, which bled green. The sheet is not soft but is porous and echoes the effect of the original material. Starr’s vivid works look like records of erosion but, with their composition of compressed sea sponges, are ultimately more linked to marine life.
Susanna received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and an MFA from the Yale School of Art. She also studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She lives and works in New York City.
Workspace Program artist-in-residence 1999