Still Here

Still Here: Susan Harris

With our “Still Here” series, we are checking in with members of Utah’s art community to see what the past several months have meant for them. When progressive hearing loss began afflicting her in college, Susan Harris shifted from Music to Anthropology, where she discovered clay. For 17 years she was an artist-in-residence at Logan’s Alliance for Varied Arts, traveling to Cache Valley schools to work in clay with students. She graduated with her MFA from Utah State University in 1990, and from 1996 to 2018 taught ceramics at Southern Utah University.

Susan Harris with Ziva and Jasper, photo by Harvey Richards

I am retired from teaching ceramics at SUU. And right in the nick of time, I think, given the difficulty of working in a 3-D area but having to do much of the work online. Lucky for me, many of my alums still come through Cedar City and stop to visit, safely distancing and out of doors. I miss the students the most.

47 years of vessel-making took a rather large toll on my body, and resulted in the need for a number of hand surgeries, one earlier this year (a successful thumb repair). Sadly, I still have another surgery pending to fix a painful neurological problem, and with luck I will be a two-handed maker again.

Luckily, I have found a perfect occupation for the realities of a pandemic: volunteering for the Raptor Nest Inventory Study (RINS) with my husband, Russell. Following the borders on quadrangle maps we have about 800 square miles of study areas to explore, much of which is in the Escalante Desert and in other remote areas such as the Indian Peaks and the Antelope Range. Time is spent finding raptor nests, accurately documenting their GPS locations, observing active use (owls, eagles, hawks, ospreys and falcons), counting chicks and recording successful fledging. Information is shared with various agencies in the state.  It’s just great to be able to leave the confines of home this way and absolutely thrilling to discover something like a new golden eagle nest with chicks.

I also have a small role in the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) working with others on the collections committee, documenting and organizing the artworks. We have discovered some unexpected gems while going through this material. I can’t say enough good things about SUMA and its effect on the art scene here in Cedar City.

Let’s not forget the Covid baking.

Good luck, everyone. Stay safe!!

Harris’ last piece fired before she retired in 2018.

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