Sue Cotter artist


Sue Cotter grew up in a family on the move from Montana to upstate New York to southern Idaho to Las Vegas, Nevada. The rootlessness of having no “hometown” instilled in her a deep interest in what connects a person to a place; what landscapes, structures, objects and stories define that connection.

Cotter began her art making career at an early age as a painter, but her interest in stories led her to the Artists’ Books movement. After completing a BFA degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, she remained at UNR to study letterpress printing with Robert Blesse at the Black Rock Press. In 1990 she moved to southern Utah where she established Woodhenge Press.

In recent years extensive travels have led Cotter to create works that do not require printing presses and other cumbersome equipment – unique books created from unusual found objects, altered books, narrative assemblage and book collage.

Cotter has received numerous grants and awards including a Utah Artist Fellowship and a New Forms: Regional Initiative Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation. Her work is in Special Collections libraries around the country as well as museums and private collections. She exhibits extensively and teaches workshops.

Cotter now lives in Parowan, Utah where she and her partner, landscape painter Spike Ress, have built their home and studios on one acre of high desert. They own a 1955 vintage Airstream trailer and wander wherever they can.


Traveling, exploring, observing, collecting bits and pieces, sketching, painting, journal writing, constructing things — these passions come together in my artist books, collage and assemblage.

Some works have text (handwritten or printed letterpress) some are visual narratives. Some open like traditional books, others will challenge preconceived notions of what a book is. All are meant to pique curiosity and draw you in to explore and experience in a hands-on way. All are meant to convey a feeling of story, not just my story but whatever story the viewer might connect to.

Much of my work is inspired by travels. It has taken years of trial and error to develop a method of working while on the road or exploring close to home. I gather materials: found objects, things purchased in the market, journal notes, photographs, sketches. I do research to expand an idea in different directions. All ends up in a “bone-pile” to draw from as I create a unique book, an altered book, assemblage or other narrative structure. 

I love the challenge of creating books using unusual objects or materials. I love the challenge of constructing an intricate three-dimensional scene in a box. I love the challenge of learning to use new media. My methods, skills and materials continue to evolve.