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Member Spotlight Monday - Sue Payne

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Member Spotlight with Sue Payne

Briefly tell us about yourself.

I am Hamilton County/Noblesville born and bred, grew up on White River in a log cabin in a deep woods. The woods, ravines, river and streams were my playground. I attended Fishers elementary and Jr High in the original Fishers 2-story, old brick building which nearly collapsed before I made it to the newly consolidated HSE high school. I graduated 2nd in my class, by the way.

Ball State University was my institution of higher education where I studied art and elementary education as a back up, which was a smart thing to do. My father passed away my senior year at BSU and I needed a job fast. I ended up at Sheridan elementary teaching upper elementary and oh brother, could I write a book about that experience.

As a youth, I volunteered at Conner Prairie and then was hired on and haven’t left since. During the mid 70’s to 90’s my mother and I owned a small custom furniture and accessory store that started in Zionsville and we moved it to Carmel. We both designed furniture and I did the custom finishing and painting. That took a good eye for color matching and mixing.

At the same time my interest in textiles expanded and I began attending Regional, local and International conferences both taking classes and teaching. By the mid 90’s I was declared a Textile Specialist for Conner Prairie and helped reproduce 200 original pieces and taught many classes.

Aside from art, what other kinds of things do you enjoy doing?

I love reading, photography and traveling. I’ll go anywhere.

Who are some of your favorite artists you go to for inspiration (past or living)?

My personal favorite artists are Turner, John Singer Sargent, and Edward Hopper as well as Western artist, Don Weller.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I’ve been fortunate to have had many opportunities to travel around the country and the world. Japan was the once-in-a lifetime experience and I had some amazing adventures.

Do you have any secret talents you’d like to share?

Well, I have scraped pig intestines to make sausage, boiled a hog’s head in a pot over the fire and picked the meat to make scrapple. I saved my son’s urine when he was 6 to make a historic indigo vat. He is now 33 and I’ve never felt the inclination to do it again. I also enjoy sharing my various and sundry skills with the public doing 1812 reenacting with friends and family, including participating at the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. That was January 8th, 2015.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments (art or life)?

I have countless ribbons and awards collected over a lifetime for spinning, weaving, knitting and natural dyeing. I only wish I had more time to really experiment outside the box with those skills; designing and creating, but…..I have shared my skills for 17 years with the youth volunteers at Conner Prairie and that program has grown wings and flown. The youth generate the enthusiasm, share and mentor each other and want as much as I can challenge them with.

Anything else you'd like to share?

It has been my pleasure and privilege to be the President of the HCAA and hopefully we will come through this global experience and continue to build the community of the arts in Hamilton County together.

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