Susan Farquhar: An Artist who Runs

Susan Farquhar is an artist and printmaker who is as passionate about running and the YMCA as she is about her art.

Originally from North Bay, she studied at Guelph and then did a Fine Arts degree at York University in 1977. After graduation, she and her partner, artist Robert Game, joined Open Studio, a non-profit community where artists share facilities. As she perfected her printmaking, her first clients were other artists creating new images using printmaking. From 1991 to 2013, the couple ran their own studio, Atelier GF, in a warehouse building at 512 Lansdowne Avenue. They then worked from studios at home which, Susan says, gives her “much less space but… more time and opportunity to work.”

Originally into fine prints in etching, silkscreen and relief, Susan finds that the digital age has revolutionized the field. Artists can now use modern digital applications to create images themselves and without needing a printmaker. On the other hand, modern technology has also opened new opportunities that did not exist before. Now she combines many printmaking techniques with mixed media, on canvas and wood. She builds up images in layers of textile and colour, paper cuts, little drawings and paintings. Her goal is to use “traditional and contemporary imagery” to “reflect the changing nature of Canadian identity.”

Her work is on her website for all to see. She also blogs about new projects. When she completes a catalogue of a group of monoprints, she can now produce it herself in book form. Before digital solutions, such catalogues would have been very expensive to produce; now they can be ordered on demand, in paperback.

She participates in art shows, some solo and some with other artists. She does presentations to high school teachers, and has worked with printmaking students doing both silk screen and digital. She finds that she is busier than ever, doing her own work as never before.

Susan, now 62, has been a member of the West End YMCA on College Street for at least 15 years. Working at the print shop, she found that she desperately needed some exercise. First she used the pool, swimming lengths. Then she started lifting weights. Then her brother and sister-in-law in North Bay got her interested in running. For nine years now, she has run regularly, doing one or two half-marathons each year. She runs with the Longboat Roadrunners Club on Sunday mornings out of the Y.  Two or three times a week she runs with friends she met at the Y. She likes the support and camaraderie of the running club and the Y. Both attract a broad mix of people and accommodate different motivations for participating. She now works as a volunteer at the front desk of the Y and meets more people than ever. For her, this Y is different: “not too big, more social cohesion, room for volunteers, and a real community which services a lot of people.” It has become her “social centre” in recent years, almost like a second home.

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