Susan Mohl Powers was born in Minnesota of Swedish ancestry. Moving to New England as a child, she graduated from Mount Holyoke College, studying studio art as well as astronomy and physics. She particularly enjoyed conducting the open houses for the public at the college observatory. After entering an M.F.A. program in sculpture at the University of Minnesota, she completed the M.F.A. degree in Visual Design at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
Her first solo exhibition at the Squibb Corporate Headquarters in Princeton, N.J. was described by the New York Times as “striking for its adventurousness and its emphatic presence.” Her work can
be found in many public and private collections. She has specialized in collaborative projects with architects such as the recent twelve foot lobby sculpture that suspends from a twenty-two foot ceiling in the new Prima CARE facility in Fall River.
At the request of architects she invented and developed Sailshade, an insulating decorator roman shade with a self-creating valance. This practical and functional moveable sculpture is installed in 32 states. The engineering and technology of the product contributed to the development of her sculpture. It provided the know-how for the fabrication of the tuft of the Lion’s Tail, the 1999 Claes Oldenburg Venice Bienniel piece that hung outside the Museo Correr in San Marco’s Piazza for about one year.
She was also a member of the ILGWU which has given her a committment to innovating new ways to see and understand traditional women’s work. She laughs that if she were ever locked in a room with her laundry and a sewing machine, she would sew it into an artwork. The Fossilsock series was generated from her unmatched socks.
Sailshade Studios in Fall River, Massachusetts occupies 3200 square feet in an 1860 granite mill. It has been her studio since 1991. Located at 425 Pleasant Street, Building#14 in the Durfee Union Mills, visitors are always welcome by appointment or by chance. Be prepared to climb stairs to the fifth floor.