Susan Herbert Hobbs Crowder
February 9th, 1943 - October 30th, 2020
Susan was born in Cleveland Ohio to William and Margaret Hobbs, and from there went on to explore the world through travel and art for the rest of her days. After graduating Sweet Briar College in 1965 with a Bachelors in Art History, she married William Herbert Crowder III, and they departed for Germany where they were stationed for the next several years, followed by a return to the US, and then another four years living in London.
It was during her years in London that she began exploring different media for her artwork, ranging from welding sculptures to carving marble, all while juggling the raising of two somewhat precocious boys (interspersed with golfing, grouse hunting and drinking single malt in the Scottish moors).
Upon her return to the United States her marbles, clay sculptures and charcoals began to reach a much wider audience through frequent shows in New York City. Sharing her love of art with her children was also a high priority, and some of the clay ornaments that we carved together (and fired in the kiln in the basement) still decorate our houses every year.
A central feature of her artistic career was to continually move on from one media to another, when she felt her current methods could not accommodate what she wanted to express to the world. In the late 1980’s and 1990’s she began creating large scale outdoor sculpture, with installations in Manhattan, as well as several colleges and universities in New York and Pennsylvania. What made these works so poignant was her re-imagining of what outdoor sculpture could be. Her works would often reference classical themes (Doric columns, Greek urns), but were made with materials (hay, vines, etc.) that were intended to break down and decompose over the life of the sculpture illustrating the impermanence of objects both found and created, and their interaction with the natural world.
Apart from their dialogue with the world of art, these sculptures held another very special place for her, as she enlisted the help of her sons in the construction of nearly all these installations. Sharing this creative process with her remains some of her sons’ fondest memories.
The next chapter in her life and her artwork took place after her move to Virginia, where she developed a collaborative program between the art community and the science faculty at the University of Virginia. Over her years there she used her art to both ask questions of, and educate people on, the emerging scientific discoveries in the fields of genetics and genetic manipulation. Her art then turned to focus on the natural world, and the effects of humans and science.
During this time Susan and Herb had moved to Florida and spent many years enjoying warm weather and golfing. They enjoyed traveling to places like Ireland and Egypt and relishing frequent visits from her loving and rambunctious grandchildren.
Susan was the recipient of several awards and grants in her life, the Sculpture Achievement Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She also held the position of Artist-in-Residence at Lafayette College in 1994 and was the Visiting Artist at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1998, and delivered lectures in public art from Philadelphia to Chicago.
Susan was preceded in death by her best friend and loving husband of 54 years William Herbert Crowder III. She is survived, and lovingly remembered by, her brother William Hobbs Jr. and his wife, Mary Jane, her sister Bettye Hobbs Pruitt, her son Andrew and his wife, Alyssa, her son Jeff and his wife, Helki, and her four grand-children, Julia, Benjamin, Annabel and Finley, as well as innumerable nieces, nephews and cousins.
She is also survived, of course, by her voluminous body of art work, which remains a permanent part of the collection of several museums throughout the country, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts to name but a few. Her work can be viewed at http://www.susancrowder.com.
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