Susan Beiner

Written by Dolores Tropiano Category: Arts Issue: October 2013
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As a child in New Jersey, Susan Beiner channeled her energy into art, embracing the influence of her parents’ occupations– her father, a chemical engineer, created hybrid roses, and her mother collected porcelain china. That influence still shows in the ASU art professor’s current work, which is one part pretty porcelain, one part plastic and synthetic materials with screws sporadically set into sculptured collage.

Panels from her installation “Synthetic Reality” are part of Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft, which runs through December 7 at the Ceramic Research Center at Arizona State University Art Museum. The installation is rich with surreal porcelain plant shapes layered alongside rubber. Bright foam flowers float along in much the same way we might see a McDonald’s hamburger wrapper riding an ocean wave.

The work grew out of Beiner’s ideas about artificial plant life, and the impact of technology on nature. “I’m exploring what can happen to plant life as a result of technology, cloning and bioengineering,” says Beiner, who received her master’s in fine art from the University of Michigan. “We are living in a synthetic reality. Plant life has changed and become artificial. We are creating hybrids that, like my work, are innately beautiful, but the ramifications can be detrimental to our way of life.” Visit for more information.