Above: Studio Art Professor Susan Klein with her painting, “Three Rainbows” (2018). (Photos by Gately Williams)

Winning an arts grant can help unlock new possibilities and new career pathways for an artist, yet national and international visual arts grants are difficult to attain. Last fall, College of Charleston studio art professor Susan Klein was one of 100 individual artist grant recipients handpicked by the esteemed Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

susan klein

CofC studio art professor Susan Klein with students.

“It feels amazing to be recognized for 20 years of persistent (and not always successful) artmaking,” says Klein, who teaches painting in the Department of Studio Art. “I have an incredible appreciation for this foundation and the work they do to help mid-career artists who have devoted their lives to their art.”

Established in 1985 through the generosity of Lee Krasner – one of the foremost abstract expressionist painters of the 20th century and widow of Jackson Pollock – the Pollock-Krasner Foundation is a leader in providing financial resources to both emerging and established international visual artists, allowing them to focus on creating new work. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded more than 5,000 grants in 78 countries, for a total of nearly $79 million.

Klein has used the grant funds to build a home studio and to buy not just supplies like ceramic tools, clay and glazes, but also a kiln, which has greatly advanced her ceramic work. In addition, the grant allowed her to purchase new camera equipment so she can take better photos of her work.

Susan Klein sculpture, After Forest

Susan Klein’s sculpture, “After Forest,” is one of her pieces on exhibit in Atlanta, Feb. 11–March 6, 2021.

All of these additions have been crucial in creating art for her current exhibit at the Day and Night Projects artist-run gallery in Atlanta. The exhibit, which runs from Feb. 11 to March 6, 2021, shares a series of abstract ceramic sculptures that are based on Klein’s previous drawings and paintings – essentially transforming some of her previous two-dimensional work into three-dimensional forms.

Klein’s art has been featured in exhibitions at the College’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Redux Contemporary Art Center, The Southern gallery and most recently at Ortega Y Gasset Projects in Brooklyn. Before she earned her B.F.A. from the University of New Hampshire in 2001 and her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon in 2004, Klein studied art at NYU from 1997 to 1999.

She has been teaching at the College since 2014, teaching her students not just artistic and creative skills, but also some life lessons, too.

“Be persistent, disciplined and humble because those are the most important qualities,” she tells her students. “Make work that nobody sees because that’s when you have real freedom to explore. Lastly, don’t be afraid to fail!”

Article written by business administration major Marco Incampo and School of the Arts Director of Marketing and Communications Nandini McCauley ’99