Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg is a Washington, D.C. sculptor dedicated to using the visual language of art in this era when words go unheard. Her work gently demands to be heard. From a six-foot block of ice, she brought forth a prize-winning sculpture in last year’s international team competition in Harbin, China. She returned to the United States to install at American University’s museum 10,752 red and blue paper airplanes folded from a year’s subscription to the Congressional Record.
Humor and indignation are the dualing light and darkness of her art. In her carriage house studio, buffalo skulls sport the quiet imprimatur of Indian casino chips. She has created a reclining homeless person out of rubble from a Chevy Chase sidewalk. Eschewing lines, she has drawn a male nude using the words of the testimony from the United States v. Windsor Supreme Court case which struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Fueled by a career in the pharmaceutical industry, on Capitol Hill, and years of volunteer work with the terminally ill, she has much to say. These experiences molded who she is and rendered her receptive when she accidentally discovered she is an artist.
She should have suspected the talent that lay deep inside, for her maternal grandfather, E. A. Sullivan, created the Christ of the Ozarks sculpture in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. While his materials of choice were plaster and concrete, her sculptures arise from a vast array of materials— a homeless man’s blanket, hotel toiletry bottles, price tags, along with stone, metal and wood. She willingly masters whatever medium best delivers the message.
Currently, she is traveling throughout the United States conducting research for a series of installations addressing the stigma surrounding drug addiction. Also in the pipeline are a series of Native American pieces echoing the approaching 150th anniversary of the Treaty of the Sioux. Restlessly, relentlessly, Suzanne is elbowing her way to the front line in our current battle for social change.