Audra Skuodas (1940-2019) was born in Lithuania and lived for six years in a displaced persons camp in Germany before coming to the U.S. in 1949. She became a US citizen in 1961 and earned a B.A. and M.A. at Northern Illinois University. She married the artist John Pearson, and raised two children while working continuously in her home studio in Oberlin, Ohio. She taught and exhibited her work throughout her career, and was associated with institutions such as the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and Oberlin College. She exhibited in Chicago with Richard Gray, and Moti Hassan in New York, as well as at regional spaces in the Cleveland area. In 2010, she received the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award.
For the past five decades Skuodas worked assiduously, producing thousands of paintings, drawings, and artist’s books which are at once personal and universal. In a new text written for the presentation, curator Emily Liebert explores Skuodas’ meaningful attachment to sewing and stitched work in the extensive Womb Wound series, which she links to an important autobiographical artist book made from felt, photographs and stitched designs. In one early assessment of her work, critic Donald Kuspit wrote, “Whatever suffering the figure may signify, it does so largely through the tense way it interacts with the rest of the picture, which is essentially geometrical.”
Skuodas was concerned with the role of humanity in the universe: its evolution/devolution and sensitization/desensitization. This uncomfortable interaction is a significant concept and the point of reference in her work: in the canvases and drawings, and especially in her artist books. They strongly evoke the Japanese Zen Buddhist idea of satori: a symbiosis of image and text; the special moment of awareness in which the infinite and the finite become one. Satori is central to Skuodas’s work and was a key principle that guided her work and life.