Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Volunteering to Enrich Others & Own Life: Artist Sue Moss Sullivan

Sue Moss Sullivan,
2009 12x12 Fundraiser

For more than 20 years, Sue Moss Sullivan has helped lead the 12x12 Art Fundraiser along with many other community events we enjoy. She has been active with countless arts events and social service organizations, serving artists and the community broadly.

Besides participating as an artist since the 12x12’s inception, Sullivan has recruited many audience members, sponsorships, and donated. She has worked hands-on to make the event happen, literally helping hang each grouping of artwork. She served on the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) Board and as President and interim Director in a pivotal time. Sue and her husband Andy are the Honorary Chairs of the 12x12 Art Fundraiser on October 1.

I interviewed her to understand better why she dedicates herself so much to volunteering amidst her busy fiber art practice.

Q: Why did you start volunteering and getting involved with the arts community?
SMS: It took me until later in life, after teaching in the 1960s, I took a photography class and my interest grew from that. I was happiest making art.

Before I joined OVAC, I’d done other volunteering for things that were important to me like Planned Parenthood and Parent’s Assistance Center.

I started focusing on what is important to me, trying to develop my fiber art and studio. Plus the community I’ve found, the social and personal community, has enriched my life. I’m not serving officially on any boards right now, but I try to volunteer when I can and try to support financially when possible.
Andy and Sue Sullivan with OVAC director Julia Kirt
Q: Why did you get involved with the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition?
SMS: The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition has helped make art much more visible in Oklahoma. Also with the redevelopment of Oklahoma City, people seem to be looking for art now.

Everything the OVAC does is so positive and made so easy. The staff has worked hard to get other volunteers involved, especially the next generation of leaders. I think that’s how all nonprofits should work; it makes it easier for everyone.  When I got involved, then OVAC director John McNeese had the idea for the 12x12 event, which I thought was genius. It started small, but I could see it growing.

Q: How do you balance your studio time and your community leadership?
SMS: Now I have time to manage both. I plan ahead, like I know I want to help hang 12x12 because it’s so fun to see every piece hands-on.

It enriches me so much. I go back to the studio and it makes me more productive. It’s a stimulating thing for my personality. For your life’s work, do what you love to do. I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me.

In studio, we keep an open and strong presence on the street in Paseo [See Studio Six]. We have been a part of the area as it has been redeveloped. The other artists in our studio and I know the value of people seeing how and where we work.  
Sue Moss Sullivan, The Gathering, Mixed Media, 12"x12"
Q: What is it like to have art in your home on an ongoing basis?
SMS: You can enrich your home and life with the art you purchase.

Art can soothe you, bring back important points of your life, and evoke memories.

First of all art should challenge you to think. You don’t have to like it on initial viewing. If you stand for more than a couple of minutes, you might see something that will make you think.  You might ask why that artist painted that landscape differently or that sculptor made abstract shapes. If it doesn’t evoke emotion or challenge, then it hasn’t done its job as far as I’m concerned. 

Art in our home holds an important part of our life. We have small hand-woven rugs from around the world. When they are sitting in our home or people ask about them, it reminds us how fortunate we’ve been to get to travel.

I’m proud when visitors from out of state come. They admire the art in our home and find out most is from Oklahoma artists.

View and purchase artwork by 150 Oklahoma artists October 1, 2011 at the 12x12 Art Fundraiser.  Buy tickets, read more and see pictures at www.12x12okc.orgLearn about volunteering with OVAC here


Jason Blankenship said...

inspiring word - really like Sue's work also

sarah makes pictures said...

I second Sue's comments about having art in your home. Living with a work of art can be such a rewarding, long-term experience, and it's a great way to introduce artists to others.

Thanks, Sue, for all you do for artists in OK!