A Woman Ahead of Her Time: Susan Waters

When it comes to American Folk Art, one name pops up in mind first. The woman ahead of her time, a self-taught artist Susan Catherine Moore Waters or simply Susan Waters.

Susan Catherine Moore Waters was born on May 18, 1823 in Binghamton, New York. The daughter of Sally Camp Moore (1788-a 1880) & Lark Moore (1790-1871). They moved near Friendsville, Pennsylvania, when Susan was a child & lived on a farm, which she painted as a landscape later. Susan was a self-taught artist with little formal training. She attended seminary school in Friendsville where she paid tuition of her sister and herself by painting copies for the course in Natural History.

At 17, on June 27, 1841 she married William C. Waters whose Quaker connections determined the destinations of their frequent relocations. Susan portrayed a number of her early portraits in southern New York state. She became a successful excursive artist, a supporter of women’s rights and an animal rights activist.

But William had a health problem and was unable to provide sufficient income for the family, which left Susan in the position of provider. They decided to stop traveling and settled in Bordentown, New Jersey in 1866 after years of temporary residences and established themselves in the business of taking fine ambrotypes (a positive photograph on glass made by a variant of the wet plate collodion process) & daguerreotypes (was the first publicly available photographic process). In Bordentown, Mrs. Waters created some of her most well-known paintings of domesticated animals in pastoral settings. In 1876, She was honored with an invitation to show 2 of her paintings at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia.

The Victorian age of painting was sort of male dominated. It’s hard to think of a female name, especially, out of United Kingdom in the reign of Queen Victoria. But Susan Catherine Moore Waters was among the few who had her mark upon the society both as an artist and a human being.

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Image Source: https://www.mullenbooks.com/pictures/6756_3.jpg?v=1487612703

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