I knew Susan Hodgin — who passed away Aug. 22 at age 36 — primarily through her art. The first painting of hers that really grabbed my attention was “Gale,” which I saw at the Indianapolis Art Center back in 2010. A six-canvas-long work full of movement, color, light and shadow, it suggested a hurricane, of course, but also unforeseen forces large and small.
This was the shot across the bow from an artist who had completely transformed her art after beginning a low-residency MFA program Massachusetts College of Art and Design's Fine Arts Work Center in 2009. Circles, once a recurring motif in her work, had given way to glowing lattices. It seemed possible at times to see through these lattices and glimpse the underlying structures that held the world together.
Quite simply, I loved — and loved writing about — her work. If I had to nutshell it, I’d call it X-ray cubism.
There would be more such work in the years to come. You could see heavy weather and brooding mountainscapes and cloud forests. Susan had broken through into an artistic realm all her own, taking a cue from the philosopher Edmund Burke and his notions of the sublime.
The first time I talked in-depth with Susan was in her Harrison Center studio in 2012. She was pregnant and had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. I respected her wish at the time that I not write about her cancer, as she wished not to be defined by her disease. There was a period of remission after her daughter Anna was born, but then the cancer returned as Stage 4.
Our next interview was at her bedside at the Simon Cancer Center in April. This time there was no way not to talk — or not to write — about the cancer. She was still creating art: colored pencil on paper. She was articulate, thoughtful, passionate and loving. It was clear to me that, no matter how devoted she was to her work, that devotion was amplified tenfold when it came to her husband, Stephen, and two-year-old daughter, Anna.
I know a lot of people will miss her very much, but I also know that Indy is a better place from her having been here for a while.
The visitation will be Aug. 29, 4-8 p.m., at Leppert Mortuary, Nora Chapel, 740 E. 86th St. The funeral service will be Aug. 30, 10 a.m. at Leppert Mortuary with burial following at Crown Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Anna's trust fund, BMO Harris Bank, 1402 N. Shadeland Ave., Indianapolis, 46219.