Degree: Fine Arts
Year of graduation: 2016
Susan Hoeltken’s journey to find her own voice.
Over the course of her career, Susan Hoeltken has gone from translating the words of others to finding her own voice — and sharing the voices of fellow artists with the world.
Hoeltken is the co-owner of Oakville, Ont.-based In2Art Gallery, located not far from Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus, where she honed her skills in painting.
Hoeltken says that while growing up in Montreal, she always felt an affinity to art and painting. “I’ve always loved art, but it was frowned upon as a career, so I went in another direction to major in languages at Concordia University,” she says.
Upon graduation in 1987, Hoeltken worked for the Association for Canadian Studies for seven years, organizing conferences and acting as a program liaison officer for the institution. She also spent a year at the Centre for European Studies, translating and transcribing manuscripts from Holocaust survivors from German to English.
Hoeltken, however, felt that something was missing from her life. Drawn by her love of colour and the fluidity of expression through nature, she started developing her skills as a master gardener, achieving the certification from the University of Guelph in 2008. “It was all similar in terms of being creative,” she says. “Language, garden design and ultimately, art, are living and fluid.”
Eager to direct her love of colour in other ways, Hoeltken felt the need to return to painting. “I had been so passionate about painting in my youth, but it fell by the wayside when I pursued other things,” she says of her decision to pick up the brush again.
The more she painted, the more she realized that she had to step back and learn the basics in order to pursue the process. Hoeltken signed up for Sheridan’s fine arts certificate, taking night classes. She even took one of her introductory classes three times, learning more each session with the instructor. “It wasn’t that I needed the [certificate] — I had to learn to paint by painting.”
Buoyed with new confidence in her developing painting skills, Hoeltken decided to open In2Art Gallery in 2009 with a fellow artist, Kelly McDonagh. “Both Kelly and I brought different appreciation of art to the gallery, but we both find painting to be something we have to do — it is very therapeutic,” says Hoeltken.
Now, along with McDonagh at In2Art, Hoeltken explores and represents the work of contemporary and cutting edge artists. She’s not done evolving in her own artistic development, however. “I’m always changing as an artist, still absorbing and learning and trying different things,” she says. “One of the problems about finding your voice is that you’re so in love with so many things, I jump around from one to the other, because it is exciting and creative to explore them. It’s a blessing and a curse.”