Rider graduate and professor presents art inspired by her urban surroundings
By Danielle Marcus
Images of silos, engines and architecture in Trenton line the Rider Art Gallery walls in the Suzanne Dinger exhibit, “Outside/Inside,” displayed until April 15.
Students, faculty and community members came to explore the different paintings by Dinger on March 1 during the gallery’s opening reception.
Junior history major Laura Petrangeli expressed her interest in the paintings, saying, “I really like how all of the paintings are industrial-themed; I think it’s unique.”
Dinger completed her undergraduate work at the University of Iowa and later, as a wife and mother of two, enrolled in Rider’s College of Continuing Studies, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in 2003.
She said she was attracted to art since she was a child because of her family.
“For as long as I can remember, I was encouraged to draw and color and make things by my mother,” Dinger said in the exhibit’s catalogue. “I displayed a keen interest in art activities and was drawing all the time.”
Many great artists inspired Dinger, including Lois Dodd, Hope Gangloff, Josephine Halvorson, Peter Van Dyke and Edward Hopper. But her skill seems to be a family trait, passed down from her mother, who learned from Dinger’s great-grandmother, who studied under Grant Wood, the renowned artist who painted American Gothic.
Harry Naar, gallery director and professor of fine arts, taught Dinger’s first painting class at Rider.
“That class with Naar, with his more classical and traditional approach to image-making, opened up a whole new world to me; it was like a breath of fresh air,” Dinger said.
Dinger went on to get her master’s at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.
Her artwork mainly depicts industrial and urban environments, showing outside and inside interiors.
She used to work at a sign shop in Trenton, where she became intrigued by the empty buildings and began to paint them.
Although she started with sculpture and ceramics, Dinger developed a deep interest in painting from observation. She’s inspired by painting on location, absorbing sights, sounds and smells while bringing the scenes to canvas.
This connection to life can be seen in her work. Stationary objects such as abandoned buildings, ancient trains and parked motorcycles seem to have the will for motion.
To capture the implied action, Dinger avoids working from photographs, which she said lack the life of the environment. Instead, she places a sheet of Plexiglas in front of the scene and captures the initial feel with dry-erase markers. In this way, she becomes a human camera and then transposes the image to canvas.
Dinger uses an array of colors to paint the different abandoned buildings or landscapes in Trenton, her work splashed with blues, oranges and the occasional yellow.
Although she is a painter, she also teaches studio art and art history.
During the reception, some of her students came out to see her paintings.
“I like all the pieces,” said senior psychology major Jelissa Cedeno. “I also like how colorful they are and how textured they are.”
Wanting to pass her knowledge on to a new generation of students, Dinger has returned to Rider as an adjunct professor.
“Teaching at Rider has been a wonderful experience of getting to share what I am truly passionate and excited about with students,” she said.
Published in the 03/07/18 edition.