“Through it all, the more I learn about my subject, the more I learn about myself.”
Susan Schneider Williams is an artist and an advocate. As a graduate of California College of the Arts, Susan was a graphic designer for 25 years, and enjoyed identity design, corporate branding and marketing. For the last 15 of those years, she founded and ran her own company Critical Eye Design. During her down time, Susan would lose herself in front of the easel, expressing through paint and making discoveries. In 2006, she began transitioning her business to Susan Schneider Fine Art and into the career of her dreams—painting.
Mentoring art students, teaching painting, and curating shows for fellow artists greatly enriched her early painting career. Susan has exhibited in numerous shows, group and solo, and her paintings are in private collections throughout the world. She draws inspiration from the Impressionists, the Hudson River School artists, and John Singer Sargent. She loves getting totally absorbed in her work—whether painting for a show, a commission or her own artistic direction.
Entering the world of advocacy was not a part of Susan’s plan. In 2014, when her husband Robin Williams died from Lewy body disease (LBD), she set out to raise awareness about this devastating yet little known brain disease. Since the discovery of her husband’s diagnosis in autopsy, she has become a prominent voice for LBD and brain disease research. Susan authored the editorial, “The terrorist inside my husband’s brain,” for the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) Neurology Journal. To date it is the #1 most read article of all time in Neurology. Susan was presented with the American Brain Foundation’s (ABF) Commitment to Cures Award in 2016 in recognition of her advocacy. She has spoken at many academic institutions and private research corporations. Susan has lobbied in Washington, DC with the AAN, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and others for better diagnostics, increased funding, and support for researchers, doctors and clinicians. She helped set up the Lewy Body Dementia Fund that supports, among other things, finding a biomarker for LBD. Susan currently serves on the Ambassador’s Council at the ABF.
Experience changes us all, including artists and because of what Susan experienced with her husband’s brain disease it led her down an unexpected pathway of advocacy. She now splits her time between being an artist and an advocate, each pathway always informing the other.
“The light is what attracts me to a subject. First I capture it with my camera and then paint from that photo back in my studio. As a professional artist the studio has always been like a lab to me. It’s where I get to explore the true elements of a composition. It’s where I can make observations and problem solve as I try to convey with paint…the message of a moment in time. Through it all, the more I learn about my subject, the more I learn about myself.”