Oil painter Susan Lichtman gives Chautauqua Visual Arts Lecture

Susan Lichtman

Oil painter Susan Lichtman will continue the 2024 Chautauqua Visual Arts Lecture Series at 6 p.m. tonight in Hultquist Center.

The lecture was preceded by artists’ talks from visiting artist Anina Major and guest faculty members Kevin Umaña, Alex Callender and Sachiko Akiyama. Stephanie Pierce will give the next lecture on July 15.

Lichtman, an oil painter, depicts scenes from everyday life and focuses on domesticity in her paintings. She received her MFA in painting from Yale University.

With details and features somewhat removed in favor of more abstracted depictions of scenes, Lichtman instills a sense of universality within each painting. She said in her artistic statement that she doesn’t plan out compositions beforehand, but instead starts with a detail and develops the rest of the painting through spatial relationships between objects.

“I begin by painting one thing: maybe a flower, an arm or a beam of sunlight. Then I parse out what could be beside, behind and in front of that thing. I look past bouquets and out through open doors. I try to record the distances I perceive in a house — the vast plane of a table or the psychological space between figures occupying the same territory,” she wrote. “As I paint I conjure up unplanned narratives. I realize I’m revealing small things that have been on my mind: a story in the news, a time of day or year, a memory of those unsettled moments when we’re preparing a meal or have just finished eating.”

Her paintings have a strong command of space, effectively portraying the movement of light and the ebb and flow of shadow. Many of the subjects her work portrays show emotion and personality not through facial features, but through light and shadow, revealing subtle tones of the painting.

“In a house where architecture is a constant, sunlight is a variable,” she wrote. “Shards of light are fickle visitors: they arrive unexpectedly, moving across bodies and the sturdy planes of a built environment. Bright spots might settle as simple geometry or as swarming flecks. For me, they make the familiar feel new.”

Lichtman serves as a Studio Art faculty member at Brandeis University as the appointed professor and Charles Bloom Chair in the Department of Fine Arts. Recently, she has had solo exhibitions at Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects, Rose Art Museum and Fahrenheit Madrid.

Her work is on view in “Simpatico: Works by 2024 School of Art Faculty,” which is open to the public through Aug. 11 on the second floor of Fowler-Kellogg Art Center.

Tags : Chautauqua Visual ArtsChautauqua Visual Arts Lecture Seriesoil paintingpaintingSusan LichtmanYale University

The author Julia Weber

Julia Weber is a rising senior in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College where she is majoring in journalism and minoring in art history. Originally from Athens, Ohio, this is her second summer in Chautauqua and she is excited to cover the visual arts and dance communities at the Institution. She serves as the features editor for Ohio University’s All-Campus Radio Network, a student-run radio station and media hub, and she is a former intern for Pittsburgh Magazine. Outside of her professional life, Julia enjoys attending concerts, making ceramics and spending time with her cat, Griffin.