TERESA SULLIVAN Bead Tapestry and Bead Sculpture


The Okra neckpiece was inspired by the testimony given to members of Congress by Pakistani teenager Zubair ur Rehman about witnessing his grandmother, Momina Bibi, getting killed by a drone strike as they were picking okra in their garden together on October 24, 2012.


Planet Stories Neckpiece, commissioned by an avid fan of pulp magazine illustration art

18"h x 6"w x 1/2"d

The colors compelled the initiation of this piece. A desire to explore ways to make flat work move and undulate propelled it along to its completion.

You Should Have
17"h x 12"w

 People often give well-meaning advice to artists.  Many years ago, a store owner told Teresa, "You should have your stuff made in Indonesia."  This seved to remind her that she didn't really want to do production work, so it was useful advice after all. 
The strands at top terminate in 23 small hand-shaped beads.  At the time this piece was being completed, there were an estimated 23.6 million sweatshop workers worldwide.
The words in the piece were created separately using flat sculptural techniques in peyote stitch, then connected with a freeform open weave.

Ecstasy Necklace
14" x 18" as worn

The narrative process is important to Sullivan. She looks at her artwork as a way to tell a story, with icons and symbols that resonate with the wearer.


Genericity Generosity
14" x 8"

There's a story behind this necklace and earring set.  It started with the gift of a bead from Jim Jones of Bullfrog Beads.  The bead suggested the Art Deco period and the Metropolis-era modern skyscrapers with its bold graphic qualities.  That started a train of thought which led to reflections on what people do to give their sprawling, sometimes generic city landscapes life and personality.  Then a friend told a story that illustrated this beautifully.  This friend has a large vinyl record collection; he discovered that a local record store was buying as many original copies of the MC5's first record as they could and storing them, not putting them out for sale until the value went up (the record had been censored and the uncensored copies were becoming very collectable).  Incensed at this, he took a copy of this record out of his own collection and gave it to the next stranger he met---having no idea if this person would like it, or if he'd ever see the guy again.  A few weeks later, he ran into the guy and found that he not only loved the record but that it had changed his life. 
This is a freeform sculptural necklace made entirely of glass beads sewn together with thread, with a vintage button for a clasp.  There are several types of bead stitching being used, including two- and three-dimensional peyote stitch, netting, right angle weave, and Ndbele or herringbone weave. 

Featured in Bead Unique Magazine, Summer 2007, page 104 ,

beaded earrings Teresa Sullivan...

Teresa Sullivan

13" x 12"

This is an allegory necklace, to commemorate the encouragement Teresa has received from artists Joyce Scott and Paul Stankard.  Joyce and Paul are depicted in the earring set that accompanies the necklace.  They are both great examples of innovation and perseverance.  Wearing a pair of Joyce's "people" earrings led Teresa to realize that she could use beads to create graphic stories, and it was this which lured her into the world of seed bead expression. 


Teresa Sullivan necklace with figures ...Teresa Sullivan necklace with figures

Miami Rice
17" x 8" x 1"

"Miami Rice" is a Haitian nickname for the rice imported from the US. Once the biggest rice producer in the Caribbean, Haitian farmaers are unable to compete with this rice due to subsidies and low tariffs. When fuel prices soared in 2008, even the artifically low-priced rice went out of reach for many people, some of whom resorted to eating "mud pies", cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening.

Wanted on Six Planets
13"h x 7"w x 1"

Sullivan loves pulp science fiction artwork and underground comics that depict bold women who get themselves in and get themselves out of trouble. This one was inspired by the Fall 1954 issue of Planet Stories magazine.  The cover depicts a similarly dressed woman, speeding away on a type of space-Vespa from monsters in similar machines.  All the Planet Stories covers I’ve seen feature strong females.  Many of the other pulps of the time were more likely to picture women being rescued. This Planet Stories woman sparks a connection to the later underground comics of the late 1960s.  She and S. Clay Wilson’s Checkered Demon, of Zap Comix fame, sport the checkered pants sans shirts; these two characters flaunt the restrictive Comics Code of the 1950s. Sullivan says, "I think of this figure as the Checkered Demon’s mom.  Both characters defy conventional morals while defending genuine rightness, and never lets fear get in the way".

Don't Tell Fred
11"h x 9"w x 2"

This piece incorporates a 1920s-era knotted “jet” glass bead necklace, which came with the note card, which reads: 
Inside are beads from tassel.  Maybe you can fix it.  This is that one of Aunt Bess you liked.  And hope you will enjoy it.  I have plenty of other jewelry of hers for the kids.  I do not want Fred to know I sent it.  So don’t mention it when you write about it being Aunt Bess?
Why couldn’t Fred know?  Was Aunt Bess a roaring ‘20s “it” girl?  Did the kids end up with the rest of her jewelry?  Did the secret ever get out? The clown-like figure evokes questions too.  It signifies a sort of “holy fool” archetype, with the birds, symbols of air, perhaps carrying the truth with them.  Will a little bird tell Fred? The opalescence of the glass trade bead in the center could be the crystal ball that reveals all in the end.  Sullivan used all but a few of the beads stored in the envelope, leaving a few inside. "I love these little artifacts that reveal details about people who may be long gone; it makes them real to me, more than the immaculate matching sets of china they leave behind. How many of us can relate to having a little secret they keep from someone they love"?

If He Hollers
11"h x 8"w x 1"

People keep proving over and over that you can’t incarcerate truth.  Suppressing dissent is like squeezing a balloon:  you squelch it in one place and it pops up everywhere else.