Susan Rankaitis is a mixed-media artist whose works often allude to ideas in contemporary science. Her most recent photographic works document her ephemeral installation, Limbicwork, completed in 2005 at Europas Parkas, the Outdoor Museum of Central Europe in Vilnius, Lithuania. Suspended in the dense forest, long arcs and loops of bright plastic tubing represent the components of the limbic system, part of the brain which influences the formation of memory by connecting emotion to physical sensation. By choosing the Vilnius site, Rankaitis also references the persecution of the Lithuanian people by both the Nazis and the Russian Army. Of Lithuanian descent herself, Rankaitis felt a kinship both to the landscape and to the group of young artists with whom she worked to complete the series. The resulting photographs—ranging from mural-sized prints to images no larger than a postcard—are the end product of the Limbicwork installation, and as with the artist's earlier works, they are rich with layered meaning. As Michael Ned Holte states in his essay in the show catalogue, the series as a whole might represent "a collective limbic system, a constellation of connections."
Susan Rankaitis has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester. Her works are in permanent collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, MOCA, Princeton University Art Museum, Stanford University Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Art Museum. She received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Avery, Graves, Djerassi, Borchard, Flintridge, and Mellon Foundations. Rankaitis has also completed interdisciplinary collaborative projects with biologist Robert Sinsheimer, neuroscientist David Somers, dancer/choreographer John Pennington and the late writer Paul Monette.