Susan first touched clay at the age of 19 when she took a sculpture class in college. She can recall the immediate sensory connection she made with the material; the smell, its texture and shadows. Her love for art did not begin there; she remembers always drawing and making "things" as a child and throughout her youth. To this day, Susan will argue that her formal training as an art student was only part of what made her a creative spirit. Living a life immersed in the diverse people and environments around her is what gave her the insight, ideas, and the inspiration she now possesses.
Susan received her degree in Sculpture and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan in 1995. After college she moved to Chicago to live with her sister Wendy Clinard, a professional dancer/choreographer/painter. Her strong bond with her sister helped her grow immensely as a visual artist. Their mutual respect and admiration of one another's work has led to several collaborations.
Another important influence during this period was Susan's experience working as a caseworker for foster children in Chicago. Working on the front lines in the community, schools, hospitals, and justice systems allowed her to see humanity in a way nothing else before it had. She began sculpting the things she saw, people she knew; as if keeping a journal. She was moved by the stories of inequality, fear, compassion, and courage. At this time Susan realized that sculpture was the unquestionable voice that would allow her to be true to herself while giving back to her community.
She collaborated with various Chicago art foundries, began exhibiting in local galleries and starting teaching at the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art and later at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During the next eight years Susan also taught with Gallery 37 (an award winning arts education program). To this day, teaching remains a vital part of Susan's identity as an artist.
Susan met her husband, Thierry in 1999 and they had their first son, Olivier in 2004. Motherhood brought with it an entirely new dimension into Susan's work. Introspective themes exploring inner growth and questions of life's balance were found throughout.
In 2007 Susan and her family moved from Chicago to New Haven, Connecticut where her husband took a job teaching at Yale. The move was yet another experience that helped Susan delve into parts of herself that was uncomfortable. She discovered that Change was not only good but vital for creative growth. And from this a new body of work evolved. Susan also collaborated with IRIS, a refugee resettlement agency in New Haven. From which Susan has meet life long mentors: refugees who fill her ears with stories of humanity; testimonies that find their way to her fingertips.
In 2009, Susan gave birth to her second son Léo Augustín.
Susan Clinard exhibits widely and has worked on scores of commissions. Her sculptures can be found in galleries, in public parks, and in collections worldwide.