Huron Valley gallery featuring stained glass works by J. Susan Aitken through March

One of stained-glass artist J. Susan Aitken's pieces that will be on display.

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Another stained glass piece by artist J. Susan Aitken that will be on display.

J. Susan Aitken’s work draws from real-life experience and her evolution as an artist. Not only was she an art teacher who has experience in book illustration, she went through a transcendent experience that inspires her current work, which she describes as “a modern interpretation of the 12th-century art form of stained glass.“

Aitken explains: “During a wonderful journey I made with my children years ago, we experienced stained glass masterpieces in France and Italy that took my breath away,” Aitken recalls. “The light and the color were unforgettable.”

Her exhibit, “Synthesis of Color & Light: A stained glass effect,” appears in the Huron Valley Council for the Arts’ gallery space at 205 W. Livingston Road in Highland, from Jan. 8 through March 1, 2020. Her work is highlighted at an opening reception from 7-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, that gives those attending a chance to meet the artist while enjoying light refreshments.

What makes the work in this exhibit unique, Aitken says, is that “color and technique create a contemporary interpretation of stained glass on painted canvas. Intricate line and luminous color create elegance and serenity. In addition to visual similarity to stained glass, some paintings weave nature with elements of storytelling, utilizing statues and gargoyles. Several works explore this narrative with imagery and symbolic intent in which three-dimensional forms are pulled from their places of origin and placed within the illusion of stained glass.”

Her prior education and experience in art include book illustration, earning a bachelor’s degree in art with certification in art education, teaching art for 15 years, and attending graduate school. Originally, she said, “My inspiration to become an artist grew from an interest in children’s book illustrations…. Throughout the years, I worked in many different art media, watercolor being my primary focus, before streamlining in oil.”

Aitken’s exhibited in both Michigan and Tennessee, featured in group shows, a two-person show as well as solo exhibitions.

She states, “I think that although it has been fun to win awards at various local shows, being asked to display my work in solo exhibits has meant the most to me. In 2019, I was honored to exhibit my artwork in solo exhibits at the Livonia Fine Arts Gallery, the Brighton St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and the Village Gallery at Cherry Hill.  Less recently, but still important to me, is that I have illustrated ten children’s books and authored one through the Centering Corporation.”

In 2020, in addition to her exhibit at HVCA, her work will be exhibited in a solo show at the Novi Atrium and other regional group shows and local venues.

Her art has been her sole focus for the past three years, since she retired from teaching. Aitken adds, “I am so fortunate to be able to paint in my own space at home. I’m loving it!”

Gallery hours for Synthesis of Color & Light: A stained glass effect are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through March 1.

For more information, go to www.huronvalleyarts.org or call HVCA at (248) 889-8660.

Cutline: Synthesis of Color & Light: A stained glass effect, featuring the work of J. Susan Aitken, will be in the Huron Valley Council for the Arts’ gallery space, 205 W. Livingston Road. “Lily of the Valley” is an example of the artist’s work, which she describes as “a modern interpretation of the 12th-century art form of stained glass.“ It will be featured in an opening reception at HVCA from 7-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10. Gallery hours for the exhibit are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays from January 8 through March 1. For more information, go to www.huronvalleyarts.org or call HVCA at (248) 889-8660.

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