Susan Stewart was born in Livermore, California, in May 1953 and lived there and in Nevada while she was growing up, completing high school in Reno. She studied painting at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland from 1971 to 1975, and after graduation taught beading and weaving in Concord, California, and silkscreen and painting in Oakland. When she went back to Montana she resided in Lodge Grass on the Crow Reservation before moving to Bozeman, where she now lives. She received her B.A. degree in fine arts from Montana State University in 1981.
Stewart's imagery has steadily evolved over the last two decades, and her use of media has ranged from watercolors and pastels to oils and monoprints. She has lately expanded to performance and installation pieces and videotape, but the one constant has been the exploration of her tribal roots. About her early work she wrote: "My paintings are a reflection of my inner visions. I combine color, spontaneity, and the free flowing medium of watercolor and draw on the inspiration of my background which I try to reflect in a contemporary manner." 1 Her focus on the land is evident in such early works as Adoption Lodge ( 1977) and Morning Prayer ( 1979) and is a focus that continues in the recent Awé series ( 1990).