Robert & Susan at Home - San Kamphaeng, Thailand 2004
Susan dressed up by Kurdish nomads - NE Iran 1997
An ‘epiphany’ at Watts Towers in the mid-1970’s was probably the catalyzing moment – when the art of the self-taught became more than an interest; rather, a passion. This led to seeking out the artists and collecting their art, and visiting the sites of ‘environmental folk art’ (for want of a better term). Involvement with The Orange Show in Houston while the creator, Jeff McKissack, was still alive especially enriched our lives, and Susan was a founding member of the original Eyeopener Tour committee, which is still going strong today. Whenever we travel we also seek out and visit similar sites around the world.
Our education in the arts at Rice University (Robert is a licensed architect and Susan’s degree is in Art History, with additional studies with photographic masters Lee Friedlander and Geoff Winningham) has given us the background for understanding and appreciating not only the creations of the self-taught, but of other cultures and indigenous peoples. Living overseas, first in the Middle East and now in Thailand, plus extensive travel has provided contexts for studying the people and the material culture of Africa, SE Asia, China, Indonesia and the Middle East. We have learned a lot by observing firsthand how different societies live and function, and how certain objects have meaning and power within those societies. For those we’ve not personally observed, we actively study and seek available information. The adventure is ongoing and never ceases to make us marvel at the creativity of man and womankind.
Susan & Robert Stem
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