Newburyport artist Susan Keller graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1979. After moving to Boston, she embarked on a twenty year career as a medical illustrator. Her illustrations were used as training material for orthopedic surgery and she illustrated several books for Harvard University Press.
Susan Keller – Artist Statement
I have always had a penchant for detail. It shows itself in most aspects of my life.
When I was young, my parents kept me supplied with art materials with which I could create all kinds of treasures for my little world.
In college, where I studied printmaking, my preferred method was etching because of the detail I could achieve with an etching stylus and a zinc plate. When I look back on my college years though, I think my favorite was a nature drawing class I took. There was an amazing library of nature objects to draw from and that was where I learned to use chalk pastel to capture even the smallest detail on an object.
Upon graduating, I sort of fell into my twenty year career as a medical illustrator. I didn’t have any formal training in this field but I loved the challenge of having to make areas of the body look real with the technical aspects of surgical instrumentation. My illustrations were used for orthopaedic surgical training and I also illustrated several books for Harvard University Press.
All of these experiences, I believe, have come together in the work that I am doing now. My work is small and detailed, and although it is not a traditional use of the medium, I enjoy being able to manipulate the pastels even on such a small scale to achieve in detail the darks and lights and textures of the objects I choose. The size reminds me of a shadow box. Each drawing, for me, is like a little world.