We had the good fortune of connecting with Sue Havens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sue, so given all the recent changes to how we live our life given the crisis, have you had any interesting epiphanies?
During quarantine, I went through some initial ups and downs that were pretty dramatic. I was trying to wrap my head around what was going on, losing a lot of academic/art related opportunities that I had worked really hard on, and suddenly having a 6 year old home full time. As life played out, though, things settled in. I began experimenting with new work in my garage that came out of a sense of urgency. Works on paper. I grilled in the yard for the first time with my family. My husband started obsessing over gardening, fell in love with it (after losing his work) and my son got involved in all of it. We went on daily walks and bike rides. This was a kind of connection that I had wanted before this crisis, where things unfold organically when your mind has time to expand. When you are on a tight schedule and have to get the kiddo out the door by 8:15, things get a bit routine and these kinds of things don’t happen. So it’s a bit of a blessing.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have always followed some kind of art making obsession. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. I am really proud of my current position at USF as an Assistant Professor of Art. I spent many years in New York City (25 !) with many different jobs on the side. Many of which were super boring and soul-crushing. I was always pursuing something that was interesting to me though, so to have finally found a home in Tampa, with a job that I really love, doing what I love, is a very big accomplishment. This road was not an easy road (Living in New York has its challenges) but I don’t know what any other way would have been. I overcame most difficulties through coming back to art. Art is my happiness, my challenge, my center. My art making obsessions led to teaching in an indirect way. My teaching came out of my practice and long history of exhibiting works over the years, and so where I am now feels like I have come full circle. The lessons I have learned is to follow the obsession and it will lead to things eventually. Some things will come here and there. Throw 1000 darts at the wall and some will stick. Work work work work work. As a good friend who is no longer with us once said “Sue, it’s a marathon”.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If it’s a group I’d rent a big old minivan take them to see views of the water and plant life- Sunken Gardens is amazing, the local parks (Phillipe Park) I’d drive them around to see Tampa houses in all of their glory! I’d take them to United Skates of America for $5. Skipper’s is fun, too. The more weird Florida, the better.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Jason Lazarus. He is a wonderful artist, thinker, educator and also an Assistant Professor of Art who was hired at the same time as I was at The University of South Florida in 2015.