With her naturally sustainable garden, flowery crowns, vintage beads and long, swirly dresses, Susan Casey-Voytik proudly admits to being a hippie.
“Oh, very much so,” she said. “I’m still hippified in my heart. And I think that’s what made it easy for me to convert to Christianity, because I already was doing all that — loving everybody and sharing everything.”
Casey-Voytik, 53, makes crowns of dried flowers and sells them each year at a festival where she sings and plays. She grows and cans produce and hand-sews crafts.
“I grind my own coffee, that’s about it,” she said.
Although she was born in Hawaii, Casey-Voytik claims deep Muskogee roots.
“I feel like I was old-school Muskogee,” she said adding that her father’s history in the Brushy Mountain area goes back three generations.
“He was stationed in Hawaii,” she said. “He met my mother there, and I was born there. I came to Oklahoma with him and my mom.”
She left Oklahoma in 1979, after what she called “traumatic experiences with my family, drugs and a broken heart.”
Over the next 32 years, Casey-Voytik lived in the farmlands of northeast Georgia. She worked as a truck driver and school bus driver and raised two children. She returned to Muskogee in 2011 and now drives for the Muskogee County Transit Authority.
Meet Susan Casey-Voytik
HOMETOWN: Augusta, Ga. “I lived there the longest.”
EDUCATION: Rogers High School, Tulsa, 1979.
FAMILY: Son, Donovan; daughter, Veronica.
CHURCH: Boulevard Christian Church.
HOBBIES: “Art, art and art.” Collect hats and books.
Susan Casey-Voytik often turned to art to help with her trauma or share her joy.
“Art has been a part of my life and has been therapeutic,” she said. “Art was a way I could channel all this stress and emotion. A lot of artists I have studied suffered the same thing, even literary artists. Look at (Edgar Allan) Poe.”
Casey-Voytik said she specializes in fabric art, using fabrics she said she “rescues from rummage sales.”
“When it comes to fiber-craft and beads, I specialize in antique, rare vintage textiles and beads and findings,” she said, citing sackcloth dresses as an example.
“Back in the day, Depression era and before, even in the West, women would go to the store and buy sugar in 20-pound bags or 10-pound bags. The sack’s cloth was this stuff,” she said, holding up a dress with a rough, floral fabric. “Back then they didn’t have Wal-Mart.”
She said she sews everything by hand.
Casey-Voytik’s current projects are fabric-covered fans she sells at her church.
“These sell out at church,” she said.
She also has branched out into singing, playing musical instruments and dancing.
“I started performing as a child, doing hula and Tahitian dances. My aunts were hula and Tahitian dancing instructors,” she said. “Hula is slower and tells a story. Tahitian dancing is faster with hips moving.”
She recalled taking voice lessons at age 10.
Casey-Voytik discovered acting when she returned to Muskogee. She participated in productions at Boulevard Christian Church, including several parts in “My Deliverer.”
“I’m a member of the fine arts department,” she said. “I sing in the choir and perform on stage as needed. First year I was here, they gave me several parts in ‘My Deliverer.’”
She recently performed in and painted set trees for Muskogee Little Theatre’s “Young Frankenstein.”