Susan Swartz, an artist and activist, lives both seaside in Martha’s Vineyard and immersed in the Wasatch Mountains in Park City. You can find her work at her gallery on Main Street in Park City. The underlying energy and tension in Susan Swartz’s work hint at her complex relationship with the natural world. Her decade long struggle with mercury poisoning and Lyme disease transformed her as an artist and as a citizen.

While Swartz’s illnesses wreaked tremendous havoc on her body, her fighting spirit and sense of urgency shook her out of her comfort level as an artist. She now works from a place of impassioned reverence for the Earth, and of fierce determination to inform and educate. “I paint the beauty of the natural world because I must devote my energy to raising awareness about the threats to it. My prayer is when people look at my artwork they understand we must take care of what we have, what brings us meaning and what can inspire all of us,” said Swartz.

In addition to painting, she and her husband, Jim Swartz, are involved in the production of documentary films that seek to shed light on injustice. As founding members of Impact Partners, they support a film organization dedicated to producing documentary films that engage with pressing environmental or social issues. Films touched by her include Academy Award winners and nominees, as well as Sundance Film Festival award winners (Won’t You Be My Neighbor, 2018; Icarus, 2017; The Cove, 2009; Born into Brothels, 2005)

Susan was the Official Environmental Artist for the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Utah. Her paintings have since been featured in major solo exhibitions worldwide, including the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China in 2018 and the Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2017. When asked about her legacy, Susan Swartz said, “I hope viewers of my art connect in a very direct, intense and visceral way. That they can pause their busy, multi-tasking lives and appreciate the diverse beauty of our natural world. And, I hope that the reminder
of this beauty is startling enough to spur them into wanting to help serve as stewards of the environment.

by Deanna Rhodes