Best of Activist Art: Susana Rivas

Born in El Salvador, Susana Rivas emigrated to Australia as a teenager. Now based in Melbourne, she uses her multidisciplinary practice to explore the uncomfortable realities society refuses to address head-on, notably the worsening condition of the planet and the consequent impacts on all living things. “I have always been an activist and have always found inspiration in nature,” she says. Using diverse materials and mediums including photography, pyrography (wood burning), embroidery, painting, sculpture, collage and found objects, Susana most often works at night in dead silence, which she says is “the best time to reflect on life.” In her recent seres Net Loss, the artist suggests that on balance, the human species is doing more harm than good to the ecosystems we exist within, capturing in tragic detail the destruction wreaked by plastic pollution. With work currently on display at the General Consulate of El Salvador in South Melbourne, Susana continues to work closely with the Latin American community and was awarded Salvadorian Artist of the Year in 2018. Mother to a pre-schooler, she still harbours a childhood dream of writing and illustrating her own children’s stories. For now though, creating thought-provoking art provides ample purpose. “I want people to question their decisions, to stop and think about their impact on others – animals, humans and our environment. Are we being just in our actions?”

Featured image: Susana Rivas, Congregation (From the series Net Loss), 2019. Scannerography digital print, 40.64 x 60.96cm. Courtesy: the artist.

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