Susan Rochester is an Oregon artist who works primarily with photography (analog, digital, and historic processes) and book arts. Geographic inquiry and exploration of the natural world inform her projects, as does her interest in shifting boundaries created by politics and human impact on the wild.
Rochester has lived in the rural west for her entire life, with ready access to deserts, forests, mountains, rivers, and the Pacific Ocean. From earliest childhood, she's had an affinity for animals, whether pets, strays, wild, or museum specimens, and the outdoors. This has led to a life-long study of natural history, navigated thorough the lenses of cameras and the pages of sketchbooks.
Her current work interrogates issues surrounding the artificiality of borders and the ways in which borders define socioeconomic possibilities and potential for those on either side. The images she is producing are appropriated from satellite imagery, recombined to create a seamless facsimile of the United States - Mexico border. She further alters these images, recombining them into digital collages that evoke indigenous weavings of the Southwest.
Rochester is an Associate Professor of Visual Art at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. During her sixteen years at Umpqua, she has taught Art History, Photography, Painting, and Book Arts. She is the director of the Art Gallery, and is the curator of the College’s permanent art collection. Rochester was a Fulbright Scholar in North Cyprus during the summer of 2017. She was selected to be a TedX-Roseburg presenter, and has participated in artist’s residencies in Nova Scotia and Playa-Summer Lake, Oregon. Her work has received financial support from the Oregon Cultural Trust/Douglas County Cultural Coalition and the Ford Family Foundation. She was a 2018 participant in the Ford Family Foundation’s Curators/Critics Studio tour. Rochester lives in Sutherlin, Oregon.