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''Art Beneath the Oaks'' by Susan Serice. (Special to the American Press)

''Art Beneath the Oaks'' by Susan Serice. (Special to the American Press)

Serice to show work in Lake Charles

Last Modified: Friday, July 05, 2013 3:56 PM

By Cliff Seiber / American Press

Sulphur native Susan Serice combines elements of Zen, Jungian psychology, photography, drawing and “just doodling” into her artwork, which will be on display in an exhibit opening next week.

The show will be at Art Interest Art School and Party Center, 1322 Ryan St. An opening reception will be 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, July 18, with wine and cheese provided by Louisiana Jam, light hors d’oeuvres, and sweets created by Laura Kober O’Connor. The show will continue for two weeks.

Serice earned her master’s degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake, concentrating in art therapy courses. She worked as a volunteer with art projects for child cancer patients at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She lived in Houston for 10 years, but her primary residence is now in Los Angeles.

“I always loved seeing the creativity of others and how working on art projects affected them,” she said in an interview with the American Press at her mother’s home in Lake Charles. “No one is angry or sad when they are creating art.

“I always shied away from drawing myself because drawing was my least favorite art studio course,” she said. “I’ve always drawn just doodles but never thought of it as an art form until I recently discovered a technique called Zentangles. I found myself constantly drawing them in my journal.”

“Susantangles” is the name she coined for the form that is part of most of her work today. She has had a long-standing love of photography, and now she uses intricate geometric drawings to mat her framed photographs “to draw in the viewer and lead them to see the details in the photographs,” she said.

In her photographic displays, she picks up elements and shapes from the photographs and extends them out onto the mat with her drawings. She travels extensively with her friend Jen Kober, actress and standup comic, also from Lake Charles. She lugs her Canon EOS Rebel camera along and takes pictures of scenes she finds interesting in the major cities and small, out-of-the way places where her friend performs.

If you see a black van with bumper stickers plastered all over it, either around town or across the country, it is likely Jen on her way to the next gig, probably with Susan by her side. There is also a lot of airline travel.

“I am trying to ease off of some of the travel,” Serice said. “It is hard to work on the road with distractions and limited room to work.”

Their apartment in Los Angeles has a spare bedroom that serves as her art studio.

“But I will still go out on a more limited basis and collect photographs I can use in the studio,” she said.

One of her works on display next week is a shot she took at night at the intersection of Sheffield and Roscoe streets in Chicago. It shows a train on the iconic El, rounding a curve. She picks up the curving lines of the train onto the mat and carries the eye beyond.

Serice has also studied the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his theories of the collective unconscious and archetypes.

“He believed that the archetypes, such as the Hero, the Mother, the Anima, the Animus and so on, are universal, innate and hereditary symbols that are inherent within all of us,” she said. “They are a part of man from prehistoric times until today, across all cultures. The creators of Zentangles also believe their patterns are also universal.

“From the responses I have received from people who have seen my work, I think there is some underlying connection that they are seeing,” she said.

“The most rewarding response I get from my viewers is in the questions they ask,” she said. “By the questions, I know that they ‘get it.’ ”

Serice also works in stone carving and will have one sculpture on display in Lake Charles. It is an infinity symbol carved from Texas crème limestone.

“It is very time-consuming,” she said, “but I believe in the old saying that there is something innate in the stone, and the sculptor simply chips away the rest.”

Some of her designs are made up of thousands of pinhead-size circles. She has started a series of astrological signs created with this technique, using white ink on black paper. Her “Scorpio” and “Aquarius” are included in the exhibit. The idea for the minuscule circles to form larger pictures came to her in a dream, she said. The circle is also an important symbol in many religions, philosophies and cultures.

“I am often asked, ‘Did you really draw all those little tiny circles?’ and of course I answer yes,” she said.

Serice is also interested in equestrian sports. Her photography has been published in the Los Angeles Times as well as the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk. Her photography and pen-and-ink drawings have been shown at The Liberty Art Gallery in Long Beach, Calif. Susan is spending this summer in her studio in Southwest Louisiana.

She has had several of her research papers published, most recently in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. She and her co-author-professor replicated an earlier study on whether coloring mandalas reduces a person’s anxiety. Jung was interested in mandalas, circular drawings or paintings that have universal spiritual and psychological meaning for people.

“The original study showed little or no effect, while our replication study showed that the act of coloring the patterns has a greater anxiety-reducing effect than the original study did.”

Serice is the daughter of the late S.J. Serice of Serice’s Store in Sulphur, and his wife, Dorothy. She is a graduate of Sulphur High School.

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