Susan Baur with pond turtles


Artist’s statement for Susan Baur
Exhibit: “How Swimmers Dream”, on display in the Sigel Gallery of the Falmouth Art Center from March 1 to March 31

Swimming dreams started many years ago when I lived in Chatham with Peter Wiseman.  I had begun swimming in ponds looking for turtles and at night, when Peter and I went to bed, I would select a swim to replay in my mind.  The goal was to distract myself from his snoring. 

Years later, I am still putting myself to sleep with imaginary swims.  At first, they were memories.  One night I’d slip through the soft waters of a Cape Cod pond to count the turtles I saw below me.  Another time I’d imagine myself studying patterns on the floor of Buzzards Bay as parallel ridges of sand unrolled below me like an ancient script.  Then I started creating swims.

One winter day at the Wareham YMCA, I pretended to be a fish.  Especially as I pushed off the wall at either end of the pool, I tried to feel what a fish would feel.  That afternoon, I cut out an underwater photograph of a submerged pine branch and added big minnows and tiny swimmers.  It was the first of what has become the series of mixed media collages called How Swimmers Dream. 

No longer constrained by reality, I imagined swimming everywhere—in trees, over the moon, and in a school of fish.  Everywhere I looked was a new opportunity and off I’d go through oak forests as thick as giant kelp beds, snow-covered branches, or cranberries floating in a bog.  This, I decided, is how swimmers dream.

When I turned these dreams into collages, I asked poets to write a poem that would expand the picture.  Their imaginations saw so many things that mine had not that I felt each poem they wrote was a present.

How Swimmers Dream itself is a present for swimmers, artists, poets, and all whose imaginations take them on unexpected adventures.