You’ve seen her in town, the lady with the feathers in her hair walking the giant black dog. Perhaps you’ve heard her singing. You’ve possibly seen her hand-sewing at a table at the Wild Bean. Maybe your children have worn her costumes. Generally, you hear her talking before you see her. She’s the one leading the annual Witch Brigade down Washington Street on (almost) every New Year’s Day in the oddly eclectic and historical Shanghai Parade, where her cohorts are attired in her ornately unique witch hats. You might not know her like I do. But chances are, you probably know her.
You can see many of the creations Susanna Robinson conjures at a very special October exhibit at the Greenbrier Visitor’s Center on 200 W. Washington Street in Lewisburg. Entitled “GYPSY WINGS and WITCHY THINGS”, the show includes several lavish collage prints, clearly with an Art Nouveau inspiration, a tiny fairy house meticulously embellished with forest-found trappings, a capricious costume or two of fantasies rendered by moonlight, plus some of the most unique, one-of-a-kind witch hats and headpieces you will see anywhere.
She lives in a world of lush fabrics, beads, antique laces, buttons of ivory and brass, and she works mostly at night, when she says the muse is strongest. The collages Susanna makes are inspired by her imaginings of other worlds, using vintage images and antique postcards, ancient crumbling magazines she probably rescued from someone’s trash pile or barn, along with old hand-tinted family photographs, and vintage sheet music, all literally cut-and-pasted and framed in old-fashioned, second-hand frames. Very fitting. Very 1920’s. Unique and distinctive.
Some of the titles of the works that will be on display are intriguing: “Gypsy with Blue Wings”, ‘She Used to Wear a Peacock Mask”, “Moon-gazing”, “Prelude Dramatique”, “In the Night Garden”, “Of Lilacs and Dancing”, and “Last Night’s Dream”, to name a few. There’s at least one costume called “The Autumn Queen” pulled from her archives of her collection. And those hats, those fabulous witch hats! These future “heirloom” witch hats feature hand-beading, feathers, velvet leaves, lace, and so much more. Proudly displayed, most will be available for purchase. Gypsies and Witches are the threads woven throughout both wall art and costumes in this unusual exhibit.
So you are cordially invited to visit the Visitor’s Center sometime during the month of October to experience a glimpse into the window into this artist’s heart. Dreamer of the wildest dreams I’ve ever heard tell of, singer of songs, whisperer of dogs, and maker of a multitude of enchanting creations, Susanna Robinson will be present for a Meet the Artist gathering on the evening of First Friday, October 7th (aka “TOOT-Eve”). A small informal reception will be held.
– Stella Saville, HashtagWV October 2016.