The Swan Artist Susan Dennis Gordon, director of the Shelby County Arts Council, in front of one of her “Organelle” paintings. (Contributed)

Archived Story

Susan Dennis Gordon has a Heart for the Arts

Published 5:27pm Monday, January 16, 2012

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

Susan Dennis Gordon is an artist, teacher and dedicated director of arts and education of the Shelby County Arts Council, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization whose mission is to promote the arts in Shelby County for all its citizens.

Due to a landlord’s mispronunciation of her name, Gordon’s nickname became “the Swan,” which led to the branding of her creative talent, The Swan Art.

Gordon has been SCAC’s director since September 2007. She has been instrumental in helping create an organization whose mission is to provide first class art, music and cultural experiences for the citizens of Shelby County.

Instruction classes for all ages, school programs, art therapy programs for special needs children, programs for at-risk students, summer art and theater youth camps, gallery exhibits and more are Gordon’s responsibility.

Her mission, along with the SCAC, is to see the Community Arts Center built in the heart of Shelby County, a 26,000 square foot premier facility in Columbiana, where Shelby County citizens can gather in one place and where the arts can thrive.

Gordon graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio arts specializing in ceramics and painting from Auburn University. For her senior exhibit, she received the highest award given to a student by the faculty, “A-Commended.” She received her Master of Science degree in art education from the University of Montevallo. Before her tenure at SCAC, Gordon was assistant to the Department of Education at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts in Auburn.

“Painting is not just a hobby or a job to me; it’s a natural outpouring of who I was created to be — an artist,” said Gordon. “Frances Schaeffer, one of my favorite theologians, once wrote, ‘Art is a reflection of God’s creativity, an evidence that we are made in the image of God.’ It is my hope that my work embodies his words.

“I am fascinated by tiny things or by really large things,” said Gordon. “I love to look at the dying stars on the Hubble website.”

Her “Organelles” project is inspired by cells, their nucleus and micro-ganglia. Featured on the NBC television show, “Parenthood,” her unique art has found a voice and an audience.

Gordon’s mission is to inspire artists to find their voice as she has been inspired to find hers. To learn more about Gordon and the Shelby County Arts Council, visit, and

The Have a Heart for the Arts fashion show luncheon benefitting the Shelby County Arts Council is Feb. 11. For ticket info, call SCAC at 669-0044.

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by email at

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