Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg is a voice for social change. She is a Washington, D.C. artist dedicated to using visual and tactile language in this era when words go unheard.
Drawing from work experience in pharmaceutical development, on Capitol Hill, and with the terminally ill, Firstenberg creates art to change societal attitudes and uphold the dignity of the individual.
Books, interviews, and research form the intellectual armature of her art. Humor and indignation are its dueling light and darkness. She strategically chooses materials that move forward the conversation through strong visual and associative language. From her native South Dakota, 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). Her art merges intellect, emotion, and spiritual depth, luring the viewer with its pleasing aesthetics, then causing a knowing intake of breath as the art’s true meaning is revealed.
She has represented the United States at the Harbin International Ice Sculpting competition (2016), bringing forth from a six-foot block of ice the Creativity Award-winning sculpture. 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. To support area art students, Firstenberg created an opportunity for high school ceramics students to install their art at the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station. As the resident artist of the Bloedel Reserve (2017), she began her major Empty Fix Project, a multi-installation series emanating from her 57,000 mile journey across America interviewing people suffering from drug addiction. Her project has inspired the feature-length documentary, Chrysalis, addressing the stigma surrounding the opioid epidemic.