Susan Emmerson

Susan was a dynamic, thoughtful, warm and always insightful part of The Crit Lab community. Her work is complex, sensual, full of humanity and heart. She could tell a story of loss with intensely detailed drawings of stacked devastated houses with child-like delight, lighthearted humor and very adult grief, or fill a space with growing families of visceral creatures of wire and mesh that felt familial, strange and alive. In our conversations I know she was eager to get back to the Lab once her health improved. She will remain a critter in perpetuity on our memoriam page. Ciao Susan. You are already missed.

In her words:

For most of us, this past two years has profoundly changed our relationship with physical space, especially the formerly safe space of home. Homes for some have become unbearably confining, for some uncertain or nonexistent and for others a desolate empty place to grieve. Natural and man-made disasters have destroyed others, leaving the inhabitants only sad scraps and distorted debris.

My work considers this emotional and physical devastation created by the loss of home. Home is where our most basic human needs - nourishment, rest and safety - are supposed to be met. When these are lost we are set adrift, grieving for security and permanence. This is “hiraeth,” a Welch word for a profound homesickness for a home you can’t return to, or that may have never existed.

Much of the horror evoked by natural and man-made disasters comes down to this basic need for safety. As our planet warms and the world seems less and less familiar we may all be left searching for that elusive home.


Susan Greer Emmerson has exhibited extensively throughout the Midwest and Boston area. She also has performed duties as a juror and a  co-curator, and has been awarded multiple residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, as well as residencies at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts at the Torpedo Factory in Virginia.

Originally from the Midwest, where she practiced for nearly two decades as an ear, nose and throat surgeon, she received her BFA in Painting from Illinois State University and her MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design in Boston. Her work appears in the permanent collections of the Grove Hall Public Library in Boston and the Bloomington-Normal Transportation Center and City Hall in Illinois.