Susan Cianciolo about her way of creating: «Even the given theme could take you in a different direction. It’s always a surprise. My work can get changed many times before the show»
Susan Cianciolo is one of the statement fashion and art figures in New York. Her career started in the nineties when she launched her clothing line Run Collection of repurposed and deconstructed items. Run means Running from authorities. The nineties were the era of minimalism where Susan stood out but had a place. She produced eleven collections from 1995-2001. It was the meticulous handwork of the team of her close friends and family members.
«I’ve had a fashion company, not for everyone. I was producing a lot of clothes, all made by hand. It’s just physically a lot of work to sew. Prints were also handcrafted. Ultimately, it made sense to me to work as an artist where you can focus more on one of a kind».
RUN collections were popular not only among fashion industry people. «People asked me to make wedding dresses, so I’ve made several. One woman contacted me recently and said, do you remember you made my wedding dress? She was pregnant at the time. I do have a faint memory of making that dress. If I don’t have a picture of it, it’s hard to trace back».
The comeback happened in 2018 with Run 12: God is a Jacket at Overduin & Co gallery in Los Angeles. Since then, it was Transmission of energy from celestial alignment with galactic center: Run 13 Collection at the same place in 2021 and this year RUN 14 FIELD of existence at The Community in Paris, which was rescheduled several times due to COVID. The last three collections were designed for a gallery space, not extensive production.
Susan Cianciolo exhibitions
Cianciolo prefers talking about current events in her life and career. For instance, about her precedence to the group show Lingua franca curated by Daniel Kapp, which opened on June eighteenth at Kapp Kapp gallery in lower Manhattan. «I’m in love with this show. I’ve never felt so inspired by a show. The curator, the artists he selected, and the press release make it special».
Cianciolo insisted on including a piece from the press release describing her artistic state precisely. «If we consider art its language – a means to communicate – then are all artists perpetually contributing to an ever-growing common language – a lingua franca – as all speakers are verbal? Art history, studies, movements, and periods, but what is it to be said of a visual slang or vernacular – a thread not freely tied to generation or surrounding, the one that ebbs and flows progressively forward as its rate».
Cianciolo is preparing for an exhibition in Cibrian Gallery, San Sebastián, Spain, opening on September twenty-ninth. With a mysterious name, This exhibition is made for a New dawn, New earth, and new solar system.
«I’m making it right now, so I’ll know when it opens». Cianciolo usually doesn’t know how the work will look. It transforms before the exhibition. In the end, the pieces could transfer into something new or send to a different show or archive. «Even the given theme could take you in a different direction. It’s always a surprise. My work can get changed many times before the show».
«A gallery is a space where I can put a lot of individual components into it, and it’s the one place which allows me to put my whole self into it. I find that to be separate from having an interview and talking about myself».
«I like when someone else talks about my artwork. Bridget Donahue can tell you a lot about it. I love hearing when other people describe it much more than I do. And sometimes, it doesn’t need to have words. It’s up to the viewer». Cianciolo met Donahue in 2015, and since then, they’ve established a trusting work connection and friendship. «They’re from the outside and have a much clearer view. I can’t truly understand my work because I’m making it».
The artist learns from the viewer. There are as many descriptions of the work as people in the world. «One artist I’ve met recently described my work to someone else while I was standing there, and they said, well, she has a domestic practice, and I loved that description. I’d never come up with that myself».
Spirituality and Meditations
«At an early age, I was meditating. I was always reading about different forms of meditation and practicing through my teens, twenties, college, and after that. Then, over time, it started to come together. But, it took a lifetime to learn about it».
There are no affirmations or manifestations – pure intuition and trust in herself. «I’m guiding myself. When you asked me why I didn’t want to be a fashion designer, I felt a decision and made it».
Cianciolo describes her work as the best reflection of her personality. So, each piece, drawing, or exhibition connects to spiritual work. Although Cianciolo doesn’t talk about her morning routine, she claims that meditation is a statement part of her day. «Let’s just have a beautiful day». Creating an artwork contains the central part of Cianciolo’s life and brings her joy. «I create and take care of Lilac if she needs something». Lilac Cianciolo is a fourteen-year-old daughter aiming to be a screenwriter.
«If someone told me about my future, I might subconsciously follow that, instead of, if they didn’t tell me, then I will probably take a different path and then be surprised with whatever’s going to come tomorrow».
This Cookbook Is Made for the Fifth Dimension (Lumber Room) was launched in 2021. «That’s just like a word I made up for a book title, but cooking comes from instinct. What’s nice about cooking is that you can play with things and follow your instinct».
Relationships between food, art, and fashion in Susan Cianciolo’s life began during her work in eight showings of Run Collection. Models served handmade chocolate truffles at Lady Mendl’s Tea Room in 1999.
The recipe was courtesy of Cianciolo’s family. In March 2001, Run Restaurant opened its doors for eight days at Alleged Galleries in New York. Followed by numerous private dinners in the 2000s at her friend’s homes or private events.
Oysters were from her uncle, produced from the local upstate farm she still regularly visits. During the biennial at Whitney Museum in 2017, RUN Restaurant reopened for a few days, where Cianciolo played the installation’s director role. «I’m always open to making dinners when the right opportunity arises».
«I’m just happy with everything. I’ve done everything in my life that I could imagine. I am fortunate that it’s not as if there’s some other thing I want to do».
Connection to Earth and Nature
Susan Cianciolo resides in Brooklyn, New York, next to Fort Greene Park. She moved there to be closer to nature. Her apartment has a private entrance to a multileveled wild garden, where she spends time creating art and planting. «I plant some herbs and flowers, so I don’t have a giant garden, but I always plant small things like herbs that I use in my salad».
Cianciolo believes in reincarnation, «you probably can reincarnate as a tree. I appreciate my ability to move like a human». Widely thinking, even her cat Alex could be a soul guard from her past lives. «I’ve never known who I could become in the future. Although I don’t know if I’m coming back again».
«Life’s purpose is enjoying myself, waking up, and having a good day. That’s already a great accomplishment each day. One minute to the next or one hour to the next or one day to the next week and the next month and the next year and the next exhibition. But I don’t want to think so far ahead or about the future. So let’s have a good day and do some work, and that’s it».
Born in Rhode Island in 1969, Susan Cianciolo graduated as a Fashion Designer at Parson School of Design in New York in 1992, studying one year abroad in Paris in 1991. She started her line Run Collection in 1995, doing eleven performative installations until 2001.
After that, Cianciolo transformed from being a designer to a gallery artist. Since 2011 Cianciolo has been teaching at Brooklyn’s Pratt University. Susan Cianciolo is the mom of fourteen-year-old Lilac Cianciolo and muse of Eckhaus Latta and Maryam Nassir Zadeh. Each season Cianciolo participates in their seasonal shows during NYFW.
Photographer: Sasha Lytvyn, Quadriga Management
Stylist and interviewer: Ana Tess
Susan Cianciolo is wearing Run Collection Archives and Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes.