Suzanne Firstenberg

In the Beginning

With a group of friends, I ventured into my first ceramics class–indeed first artistic class of any kind–just for the fun of it. Aaron Brophy, a local artist and middle school teacher at The Landon School, bravely offered to turn us all into ceramicists. We took to our wheels. As the other students were creating beautiful vases, serving plates, and M&M bowls, I struggled to “center” my clay. In utter frustration, I asked permission to simply try making a bust.

Suzanne Firstenberg | Petra

The path was not linear. My first exposure to creating sculpture was fraught with signals to turn back:

Early on, as I was building the structure for her head, my bust simply unravelled, right before my eyes, peeling itself like an apple, it’s clay falling slowly, mockingly, in a continuous length to the floor.

Suzanne Firstenberg | Petra

Then, not knowing how to create hair, I gave her a safe coiff. Mr. Brophy challenged me to try something harder–loose, flowing locks of hair.

Suzanne Firstenberg | Petra

Once she was sporting a loose, cascading mane of hair, she was almost finished, but that night, her head fell off.

Suzanne Firstenberg | Petra

Despite all of this, Petra came to fruition, and with her, my resolve to explore the world of sculpture.

Suzanne Firstenberg | Petra

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