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Susan Matthews

Tufted Rug with Knit Appendage, 2021, Wool, polyester fill, Courtesy of the Artist

Visit Susan Matthews’ website
Instagram: @smmartmaker/

Hear from the Artist



My name is Susan Mead Matthews and the work I am exhibiting here in the Newport Art Museum is called Tufted Rug with Knit Appendage.

This piece is the beginning of a new area of investigation for my work. Both the process of tufting and rug making itself are new to me. As you may have noticed, rug Tufting has become very popular recently. The pandemic, videos on Instagram and tik tok as well as the increased availability of affordable tufting guns have helped to create a tufting trend.

I am drawn to the soft textures and bright colors of rug tufting that I think people are responding to during this dark time. But i am also interested in the concept of a rug, the idea of putting art on the floor, instead of the wall. The floor is both intimate and vulnerable. We step on rugs, and we lie on rugs.

In this public venue, the Museum chose to display the rug on a pedestal, which brings it up out of the more accessible floor context but gives it another. The pedestal calls attention to the thing-ness of the rug. Celebrating the object, but also separating it from us. You have to imagine lying on this rug, holding the knit appendage.

Within the work itself, the combination of the two dimensional and three dimensional elements and tension between them intrigues me. I was fortunate to be introduced to the work of Eva Hesse at a young age. Her influence can clearly be seen in this piece. Check out her 1966 work Hang Up and the relief paintings she made while in Germany in 1964 and 1965.

Thank you for looking.