Monday, March 9, 2009

Art Teacher’s “Baggage” Makes New York Debut

Unlike most people, Sue Norton-Scott’s baggage is a good thing. The Rio Salado College art instructor’s “Baggage” is an original art piece about immigration that was recently on display at the Pen and Brush gallery in New York City.

“The piece explores crossing immigration boundaries, with clear references to Mexico, water, and what we take with us when entering new territory,” said Norton-Scott.

“Baggage” was accepted into an exhibition called “In the News,” which was judged by CBS News/60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer.

“I feel particularly honored that he selected my work,” said Norton-Scott.

Norton-Scott’s art pieces begin as oil paintings, but are categorized as surrealistic mixed media because she expands and extends her canvas.

“Viewers can expect to find unusual objects sewn into, popping out of, and hiding behind the traditional borders of my art pieces,” Norton-Scott said. “More important than the media is the message, though. Rather than conveying a point of view, my pieces ask viewers to think differently about an issue and ask new questions about a contemporary topic.”

Norton-Scott teaches Introduction to Art, Survey of Music History and Contemporary Cinema at Rio Salado. She also teaches gifted students in the Mesa Public Schools.

“I am passionate about helping people learn and express their ideas because I had so many inspirational teachers in my own life,” said Norton-Scott. “I get a kick out of seeing someone having an ‘aha’ moment because one positive spark is quite contagious. Over the years, I’ve gotten to value being the “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage.’”

These days, Norton-Scott finds that humanities courses are quite popular. “Especially in this economy, people need meaningful enrichment and they appreciate the arts more than ever,” she said. “Most of my students are taking online classes to enhance their skills for a new job or to earn a college degree.”

The self-proclaimed “guide on the side” enjoys bringing her first-hand knowledge into the classroom.

“I can express an artist’s point of view when students ask questions about the creative process, the current market, or contemporary art,” said Norton-Scott. Some artworks take more effort to create due to the time it takes for oil to dry or to meld diverse elements into a cohesive whole. Because of my personal experience with these issues, I can explain the artistic, physical and intellectual processes in detail.”

Norton-Scott has displayed her work in Chicago and Sacramento, as well as the Mesa Arts Center. Currently, three of her pieces are included in the online Caladan Gallery exhibit “Creating Synthesis: Exploring Art and Technology.” Norton-Scott’s artwork can be seen on her website at

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado, founded in 1978, is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. The college serves more than 60,000 students annually, more than half online, making it the “college within everyone’s reach.” Rio Salado offers general education courses as well as a variety of degree and certificate programs. For more information visit