facebook sharing button twitter sharing button


Media/Format: Visual Essay
Thesis Mentor: Andrea Tsurumi
Collaborators: Eunice Wang

No mother can be all things to a child. When that child grows up wanting to be an artist, she may need creative mothers to help her along the way. Sometimes those mothers are people she meets in real life, and sometimes they are women she knows only through their biographies, letters, diaries, and creative work.

In a series of personal visual narratives that form a memoir in essays, Susanne investigates how some of her many chosen mothers have guided her thinking about issues she has faced as woman and an artist—friendships with other women, relationships with men, the decision whether or not to have children, how to live a creative life, the purpose of life, and growing older.

These explorations are organized and shared with the reader through a website that serves as a portal to an imaginary city inspired by the one medieval writer Christine de Pizan (one of Susanne’s creative mothers) built in her 1405 Book of the City of Ladies.

Christine de Pizan understood her city as a place to which she and others could travel to whenever they needed a community of women to defend, support, inspire, and uplift them. The stories she collected in it were biographical.

Susanne’s city is a space she created to organize, store, and share her experiences and memories. In it, she collects personal narratives through which she processes and understands her own world and experiences. In sharing them, she hopes her city of ladies serves as a place of connection and contemplation, and is a catalyst for readers to think about their own experiences, their own chosen mothers.

Susanne Reece is a writer, illustrator, and visual essayist. She has always found the real world, its people and the other creatures in it, endlessly fascinating, stranger and more wonderful than fiction. Maybe this is why she loves history, literature, languages, art history, and natural history. Maybe this is why the stories she tells are grounded in the lives people have lived, the words they have written, and the art they have made. Maybe this is why she has always been drawn to cities, where so many people and stories have lived, and why she chose New York as the place to live out her own.

Instagram: @susannemreece
Website: susannereece.com


Collaboration Credits: Andrea Tsurumi, Jessica Taylor, Annie Yang Miller, Olga Jakim, Shanna Compton, Sarah Katz Liebowitz
Medium Format: Handbound Accordion Book, Digital
Location: New York, New Jersey, California


As an expansion of the meditations on chosen creative mothers that are the focus of the visual essay collection, "A City of Ladies", 6 women were invited to collaborate by contributing a panel with the names of women who have inspired them to be included in a small handprinted and hardbound book. Only 7 copies of the book were made: an artist's proof and one for each contributor.

The public is also invited to contribute panels to a virtual version of the book by downloading the template, filling it in, and posting it to Instagram with the hashtag #acityofladies.