Susan Martin Biography
I grew up in Alberta and since we moved often, because of my Dad’s work combined with visiting relatives I spent a lot of time on highways of Alberta absorbing the landscape whizzing by.
I was always an artist and worked in different media. I joined an artist's co-op in Calgary, The Dandelion, where I had my first shows and was part of a larger artist's community.I had taught myself photography at the Dandelion in a little darkroom under the stairs.
There are many photographers of prairies but I wanted to photograph the prairies with my eye. I went to Toronto to study photography at Ryerson Polytechnic (now Ryerson University. The Ontario Art Council gave me a grant to go back to Alberta, with newly educated eyes to shoot the land I had grown up with.
The picture of me above was taken about that time. Just weeks after finishing classes I bought a car and drove back to Calgary where I stayed with my brother and his family when I wasn’t on the road. I spent four months driving around, stopping the moment I “saw” a picture. I would sleep in the back of my station wagon and develop my film in my brother’s bar sink. A lot of film got exposed.
When I got back to Toronto we turned around and moved to Vancouver because my husband got a newspaper job there just in time for the 1982 recession. I had a hard time finding a job but then got diagnosed with MS. My ability to be creative was often frustrated but the closest thing to my heart were the prairie photos which I was never fully able to realize.
I had made prints of some of them while I was still able to do darkroom work. The prairie negatives were stuck in their sleeves. Eventually I was able to scan them myself to put on a website. I had a GoFundMe page to make money to get them scanned professionally and I contacted the master printer at Fidelis Art Prints, Alan Somerville, who I had worked with a decade earlier. Then I started getting super prints done that I started selling.