Alder Suttles, a native of the Pacific Northwest, was born in 1979 in Portland, Oregon. From early childhood she developed a passion for the power of art to create make-believe worlds. After a broad exploration of art, from painting to performance, she chose to attend Maryland Insitute College of Art where she earned a bachelor of fine art degree in photography in 2009.
While Alder uses the photographic image as a medium of art, she does not want to use the camera as a tool to deceive the viewer, rather she invites the viewer as a friend to enter a world she has created. “It’s important to me to draw a distinction between make-believe and trickery, not unlike the difference between pretending and lying, play and deceit—or even collaboration and dictatorship,” she says.
Alder prefers a tangible rather than a “Photoshopped” reality. She describes how she constructs environments “like the dioramas we made in grade school” and then challenges herself to find alternate meanings in the materials, wondering “how can I transform a wooden thread spindle into something we might encounter, in large scale, on a dark beach or if it’s possible that a jar full of buttons could become a babbling brook flowing through a desert populated by winged deer.”