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Susan McClelland moves beyond her

career mold of ‘failed language’ – which were

works that included small prepositions or

obscenities that, in turn, let the viewer read

between the lines. In her most recent exhibit,

Mute at Team Gallery, she leaves her

obsession with text behind.

McClelland’s series Mute (2019) depicts

monolithic forms against monochromatic

backgrounds. Each work within the series uses

dry and wet oil pigments combined with other

mixed media on canvas. These works are then

tilted using singular letters of the alphabet – a

nod to past compulsions and a need for order.

Ultimately, these limited titles let the medium speak for itself

and flow/drip/ooze down the piece.

Mute: V, a specific piece from the series, seems to

present to the viewer a silhouetted black-and-white figure that

has its back turned. The dense paint that forms in the left corner suggest a sheet within the

piece, which covers items laid underneath it – hiding the intensity behind the piece as a

whole. The pigment separation gives a sense of pulsation, as if this canvas held within it an

intricate network of bodily systems.

Without exception, McClelland has always addressed political and feminist issues

within her pieces. In this specific series, she is addressing these same issues as well as trying

to communicate how wordless paintings and abstractions speak to the fact that language has

become pointless in an era of miscommunication and chatter.

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Mute: V

Dry pigment, mica, archival glitter,

polymer on canvas

40” x 30” | 2018-19

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The work becomes meaningful to the viewer by pushing them to look beyond the

sparkling and densely populated scenes in order to interpret what is going on, retracting the

artists voice in a loud and overwhelming era.

Hirsch, Faye. “Suzanne McClelland's ‘Mute’ Paintings Demonstrate a Provocative Silence in an Era of Noise.” Art In America, January 14, 2020.

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