Susan Rankaitis does not have an image.
American 20th century
Susan Rankaitis was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1949. She studied painting at the University of Illinois in Champaign and received her BFA in 1971. She earned her MFA in photography from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1977
Starting out as an abstract painter, Susan Rankaitis was inspired by the solarized photograms of László Moholy-Nagy to use darkroom chemistry as a component of her multi-faceted approach. Her lengthy creative process begins with exposing up to 100 negatives on light-sensitive photographic paper, working section by section. Then, in what has been best described as artistic alchemy, Rankaitis employs various media and techniques—painting, bleaching, tinting, staining and collage—to transform the emulsion-coated surface into a rich topography of metallic tones and intermingled images. Her frequently large-scale investigations take months or even years to complete. Says Rankaitis, "While I use various permutations of painting, photography, and drawing as tools in making the work, the content is derived from the shift of questions from the information systems I am most drawn to in everyday life." Her subject matter includes landscape, airplanes, technology and the sciences, particularly neuroscience and molecular genetics, often borrowing from diagrams and symbols that describe scientific principles. Over the past decade, Rankaitis focused on "overlapping, fractured representations of the brain and of DNA." She is currently working with a neuroscientist, a molecular biologist and a dancer on two collaborative projects. Since 1990 Rankaitis has been a professor and the Fletcher Jones Chair in Art at Scripps College, Claremont, CA.
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Having earned the Fletcher Jones Chair in Art at Scripps College, Susan Rankaitis has developed her skills in painting, photography and drawing while exploring the world of science. With a BFA in Painting from the University of Illinois and an MFA in Painting and Photography from the University of Southern California, Rankaitis developed experimental techniques for producing abstract and conceptual art.
With a review by Lyle Rexer from June 2020 calling Rankaitis’ work “ambitious” and “quasi-scientific,” Rankaitis’ creations are meant to combine scientific theories with visual detail. Rankaitis’ pieces can be viewed across the country, in collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
-Amelie Lee SC ’23, Wilson Arts Administration Intern 2020