Works
Overview

The constant of the female actor either dressed as suburban cypher or traumatized victim is a portrait of the personal collapse cloaked in social symbols and mythology. 

Susan Copich uses a classical sense of theater casting herself as both symbol and subject posed in idealized choreography. The drama is set in environments much like the painterly convention of “tableau vivant” with the open ended story seemingly frozen in time. The subject matter is the story of all women as they struggle within societal roles to defy them or be devoured by them. In each photo, Copich poses as an allegorical symbol creating a poetic moment. Rather than losing herself in personal revery, she deliberately engages and challenges the viewer who is forced into roles of at once witness, audience and accessory.

The constant of the female actor either dressed as suburban cypher or traumatized victim is a portrait of the personal collapse cloaked in social symbols and mythology. As Susan writes about her work, “Because of the current conversation on power, sex, men and women, it is perhaps the first time in modern history that women’s experiential perspective is on the table. It is upending existing norms and redefining the feminine side of the story, giving it voice and credibility; asking the female population to not only seek their truth, but be to let it be heard; requiring each of us to re-evaluate our experiences and then to articulate with clarity and subtly a more enlightened existence; demanding that we no longer model ourselves and our revolutions after masculine role models, but reflect deeply on our authentic experience. All this is no easy task and one that requires bravery, exposure, success and failure” And the message is universal: No matter what kind of distance is created by the formalized, staged tableau of the “portrait”, this space is undermined by an uncomfortable intimacy which inevitably illuminates the pain of living and the struggle for change.

Biography

From setting up dramatic tableaux vivants to clicking the shutter and obsessively re-shooting to make sure her meaning is clear, Copich does it all.

Biography

 

Susan Copich¹s creative life was all about moving, starting with ballet and modern dance as a child in her hometown of Youngstown, OH, and going on to earn a BFA in choreography and performance from Ohio State University.

 

Attracted by the “edgy scene” in San Francisco, Copich had a robust career as a dancer, performer, choreographer, and teacher until a knee injury took her off the stage. Seeking another form of expression, she started acting lessons and then began studying photography in 2006 at the International Center for Photography. Copich found photography was able to incorporate all of her prior theater and dance training as well as explore her own powerful personal vision.

 

The sardonic Domestic Bliss (2010-2015) series began in the 2010s, when

Copich felt middle aged, irrelevant, invisible, and needed a creative outlet where she could control everything. From setting up dramatic tableaux vivants to clicking the shutter and obsessively re-shooting to make sure her meaning is clear, Copich does it all. Copich acknowledges the influence of Cindy Sherman¹s highly theatrical self-portraits, Gregory Crewdson¹s carefully constructed scenes, and absorbing the darkness of filmmakers David Lynch and Mike Leigh.

 

Domestic Bliss came from realizing that she was missing in family photographs. In the subversive series, she took center stage with her husband and two daughters as supporting cast. As idyllic as Copich¹s scenes can appear, there is always menace, a dark twist: a gun in a child¹s hand poolside, a noose hanging over a breakfast table, or barbed wire dividing a marriage bed. The series ended with the short film, The Cupcake, 2016, where the concepts of Domestic Bliss were transferred to the screen.

 

In 2016, Copich began shuttling between upstate New York to her Rust Belt hometown to spend time with her ill father. Using a derelict building as her set, she began then he forgot my name (thfmn), a study of decline, decay, death of her father and her city. Responding to the #MeToo movement, the focus shifted to women, some vulnerable, some invincible, with Copich playing them all in film-noir-like scenes.

 

Susan Copich has been featured in one-woman shows and won recognition in numerous juried exhibitions in the U.S. including  PHOTOWORKS 2019, curated by James A. Ganz, Curator of Photography, J. Paul Getty Museum. Susan Copich has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally including the National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington D.C, Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, Brownsville TX., Art for Peace Festival in Tehran, Iran, Moen Mason Gallery, Tucson AZ., Sohn Fine Art, Lenox, MA and has been an invited speaker at the Norman Rockwell Museum of Art and for the Professional Women Photographers (PWP). Ms. Copich has been the recipient of many awards including the 2019 International Photography Awards and the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition.

 

-Karen Chambers

 

Exhibitions
Virtual exhibition

Susan Copich uses a classical sense of theater casting herself as both symbol and subject posed in idealized choreography. The drama is set in environments much like the painterly convention of "tableau vivant" with the open ended story seemingly frozen in time. The subject matter is the story of all women as they struggle within societal roles to defy them or be devoured by them. In each photo, Copich poses as an allegorical symbol creating a poetic moment. Rather than losing herself in personal revery, she deliberately engages and challenges the viewer who is forced into roles of at once witness, audience and accessory.
The constant of the female actor either dressed as suburban cypher or traumatized victim is a portrait of the personal collapse cloaked in social symbols and mythology. As Susan writes about her work, "Because of the current conversation on power, sex, men and women, it is perhaps the first time in modern history that women's experiential perspective is on the table. It is upending existing norms and redefining the feminine side of the story, giving it voice and credibility; asking the female population to not only seek their truth, but to let it be heard; requiring each of us to re-evaluate our experiences and then to articulate with clarity and subtly a more enlightened existence; demanding that we no longer model ourselves and our revolutions after masculine role models, but reflect deeply on our authentic experience. All this is no easy task and one that requires bravery, exposure, success and failure" And the message is universal: No matter what kind of distance is created by the formalized, staged tableau of the "portrait", this space is undermined by an uncomfortable intimacy which inevitably illuminates the pain of living and the struggle for change.