Ann Piper, M.F.A.
Assistant Professor of Art
Many of Susquehanna's creative programs—music, graphic design, creative writing—are very highly regarded, and I joined this faculty with the desire to do the same for the studio art program. Susquehanna students are very excited about creating meaningful art, and I am eager to push them as far as they can go.
I’m a believer in the role of fine arts within a liberal arts education. Well-rounded non-art majors, from the sciences to modern languages, make our art classes much richer. It’s like putting a pinball into play; surprising connections are made and exciting things start to happen. I feel that the most valuable skill to hone today is the ability to solve problems creatively.
Fine art is an excellent double major because studio classes are a wonderful way to work the "other side" of the brain. In fact, both majors and non-majors who take art classes are eligible to submit their work for our professionally juried student art show. This event allows students, faculty and parents to see the big picture of the work going on in the department and creates a wonderful opportunity to celebrate student success.
Personally, I’m very interested in figurative work, including self portraits. Self-portraiture is sometimes viewed as an exercise in vanity, but the tradition of this practice in the arts is a long and honored one. I view it as an actor might: by playing different theatrical roles and imagining scenarios, I'm able to investigate different aspects of my own identity. It's the same as in everyday life; we all try on different hats. In my work, I can dress up or dress down—or even paint myself as a nude.
You never think it’s going to happen to you, but in fact my work has been censored several times. I tell students, "You shouldn’t alter your work to please others. If you do, it won’t be original. But you do want to understand everything that your audience is seeing and be prepared for alternate perceptions. Art is not anything if not thought-provoking."
Before I started painting self portraits, I knew only so much about myself. I wasn’t in touch with my sense of humor. I didn’t know that I could be so engaged with issues of dignity, identity and interpersonal relationships. My art has allowed me to become a lot more open and to grow as a person.
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