Visual Arts | WIP

Suzanne Storer’s Relief Portraits Embrace Ogden’s Unsheltered

“Perseverance” is part of Suzanne Storer’s ongoing series of portraits of the unsheltered in Ogden.

Clay artist Suzanne Storer has been working on a project inspired, in part, by her grandmother, Hazel, who invited a hobo to dinner each Sunday during the depression of the 1930s. “It feels like my grandmother is here with me as I work sculpting homeless people here in Ogden who are in similarly difficult circumstances,” she says.

The portraits are her sole focus at the moment, as she prepares for an exhibition that will be at Ogden’s Eccles Community Art Center in 2024. “I can just imagine opening night where some of my models would come and enjoy themselves amongst the usual art crowd.”

Storer pays her subjects and as she photographs them, they often tell her their story. “As I work on each sculpture I think about the person I’m sculpting. I’d much rather draw or sculpt a weathered face that reveals that person’s life.” Myra, the subject of the relief sculpture Storer is working on at the moment, lived last summer in her car, parked next to a city park. Storer’s portrait of her focuses on the subject’s jewelry, and her warm smile.

Suzanne Storer, with a photograph of Myrna, and the relief sculpture she is working on. Image courtesy the artist.

“It’s a beautiful mental space to work in, caring above all else about whether or not the work in progress meaningfully catches another person’s difficult existence,” Storer says. “Creating the illusion of 3-D space on a single surface takes concentration. Of course the clay also must make it through the kiln firings.”

After she had photographed Myrna, Storer had the image blown up larger. “That enlargement had an incidental white border,” she says. “[It] wouldn’t leave me alone …” So, she decided the sculpture needed a frame. It’s an oval, scrolled with flowers, which gives it the feeling of something that might have hung in grandma Hazel’s home.

The frame around the portrait of Myrna was inspired by a technical glitch when Storer enlarged the original photograph. Image courtesy the artist.

You can view more of the artist’s work and follow the project at and on Instagram.

Categories: Visual Arts | WIP

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