Susan Byrnes


   Susan B Studio, LLC

A famous motto in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel “Brave New World” is “Ending is better than mending”: old or worn things add no value to the world. Huxley created a society with an endless appetite for all things new and an economy based on consumption, because constant consumption creates demand for production. This theory is no longer fiction. Today, Americans participate in an increasingly disposable consumer culture that acknowledges and accepts products designed with inherent planned obsolescence.  These practices oppose alternative ideas about sustainable practices necessary for conserving our planet.   For this series of projects, I took Huxley’s dystopian idea and reversed it to “Mending is better than ending.” Each community-based project relates to the idea of transforming the old, worn, outdated, or discarded.

  • Subculture3:18
  • Food4:33
  • Clevelanders Testify2:24
  • Sound of the Future3:36
  • Corners6:10
  • Lakeshore4:34
  • Views5:07


Mending (Antioch) Is Better Than Ending, 2012. An installation created from discarded materials from Antioch College prior to it’s reopening in 2011, exhibited at the Herndon Gallery.  After three years of being shut down, the historic Antioch College was purchased by loyal alumni and reopened. This installation drew from piles of discarded academic materials and architectural remnants to create a makeshift “dorm room” for the new students of Antioch, woven together with dreams of social justice (visible in the bed’s headboard video) and materials of critical thinking (quotes from founders and poets, Xeroxes of post modern and post colonial theory, collections of video and audiotapes). The bed and woven panels were also designed to become a human scale book with woven pages connected with hinges to the collapsed bed frame, which was crafted from an original residence hall doorway removed during a renovation.

Mending is better than ending

Cleveland Revival, 2013. A web and phone based participatory installation with a culminating performance event in July 2013 at the Sculpture Center in Cleveland.  This project used the metaphor of the religious revival  (tent and testimony) to address the faith that native and non-native Clevelanders have in the post-industrial, post-Great Recession revival of their city.  A web and phone accessible tour provided a map and remixed audio interviews about important aspects and sites of the city that could be virtually or physically visited. The culminating event gathered Clevelanders in a tent installation to share written and verbal stories about their city.  Audio tour  tracks accompany the installation images.

Mending Is Better Than Ending, 2012. A workshop using discarded materials from an historic theatre in Cincinnati to create musical instruments (based on the lyre) that related to the theatre’s musical importance.