My work has always been inspired by stories, and words form the impetus for my drawings.  For years I have drawn inspiration from the journals of Nantucket women who sailed on nineteenth century whaling voyages, and their words have led to embroideries rich with animated whaleboats, frothy waves, proud ships and noble, mighty whales.  I have always been sympathetic to those magnificent creatures.  The folk-like quality of my work has allowed me to focus on the brutality of the whale hunt without excessively gruesome images.  My deep interest in and fascination with whales lead to a series inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.  Inspiration continues to come from stories humble and grand, historic and contemporary which contribute to the rich fabric of Nantucket life. 

Intertwining texts, images, and playful borders, my work pays tribute to the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages.  I also adapt the techniques of seventeenth-century raised embroideries, which I love for their wonderful capacity to convey life.  In the first moments of working on an embroidered narrative, while my mind is uncluttered, I receive inspiration and reflect on design and technical problems.  I then record and illustrate these ideas in my journal.  I begin by drawing single images, which I arrange until pleased with the overall composition.  I use dye painting, hand embroidery, handmade needle lace, appliqué, beadwork, gold leaf, carving and quilting.  In creating each unique piece, I encourage the observer to stop, focus, and become involved in the intricate details.    

–Susan Boardman