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Susan Poffenbarger is an American artist who grew up in Charleston. Her paintings and pastels on paper are inspired by the natural beauty of West Virginia. Despite her love for art, she initially studied history at West Virginia University, where she met her husband of more than fifty years, lawyer Daniel Poffenbarger.

Susan’s passion for art was awakened when her mother bought her art lessons to help her work through postpartum depression after the birth of her first child. These lessons ignited her artistic fire and she never stopped painting, choosing to further her art education with Hank Keeling at the University of Charleston. She continued her art studies at Marshall University, The New York Studio for Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, and the Art Students League in New York, as well as many workshops with notable artists. She studied with Richard Treaster, Phillip Pearlstein, Janet Fish, Wolf Khan and Nell Blaine. During these years she gave birth to three more children. The tragically premature death of her first-born, Matthew, in 1986 at 22 years of age was devastating for the family-oriented woman and has remained with her for the rest of her life.

Poffenbarger has subsequently blazed trails for female artists in the Mountain State. In 1997, she became the first West Virginia woman to ever receive a federal commission for art for two paintings at the IRS National Computing Center in Martinsburg. She received a second commission in 2003 for artwork at the Federal Courthouse Annex in Wheeling. She has presented her work at many invitational and juried exhibitions including the annual West Virginia Juried Exhibition where she has won the Governor’s Award five times, and 12 Allied Artists awards. She is featured in numerous public and private collections like Clay Center Juliet Museum of Art, Huntington Museum of Art and University of Charleston.

Poffenbarger has volunteered at Kanawha County Schools for years, teaching art at all levels. She also taught gifted art for Putnam County Schools for seven years. She believes in everyone’s inner artist and strives to bring that out through teaching.

Susan Poffenbarger’s community work includes serving the West Virginia Commission for the Arts, the board of directors and emeritus board at the University of Charleston, and the board of The Library Foundation of Kanawha County.

This Article was written by Christopher Chapman

Last Revised on July 01, 2021

Cite This Article

Chapman, Christopher "Susan Poffenbarger." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 01 July 2021. Web. 23 April 2024.


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