Interview: Suzy Birstein | ITSLIQUID

Interview: Suzy Birstein

Interviews | April 8, 2019 |

Interview: Suzy BirsteinImage courtesy of Suzy Birstein

Interview: Suzy Birstein

Luca Curci talks with Suzy Birstein during VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2019 at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi.

Using fired clay, oil and collage on canvas, Suzy creates sculptures and paintings that simultaneously celebrate individuality and interconnectedness. The artist references historical women and popular culture to build composites of a current self. Suzy graduated with Honours from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her work has been exhibited, published and collected in Canada, USA, Europe, Mexico, Japan and Australia. Her art is included in over 60 group shows and 20 solos. “Motion Pitchers” were commissioned gifts for Academy Award nominees. Ceramic dance slippers commissioned for “Tap Grace Awards”. Suzy leads and attends international master workshops, most recently including Greece and Mexico.

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Interview: Suzy BirsteinImage courtesy of Suzy Birstein

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Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Susy Birstein – Figurative sculptures, paintings and collages inspired by 2 different themes. 1: The Gaze – as inspired by Renaissance art, particularly Velasquez “Las Meninas”, Van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Marriage” and Fouquet’s “Virgin and Child” – through a contemporary feminist eye. The other theme is “Tsipora”, my Hebrew name meaning “Bird”. These pieces gaze within, from the perspective of love, loss and longing. The bird symbolizes transcendence and transformation.

LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
SB – I am 2nd generation Canadian, with Eastern European ancestry. Both my parents did the best they could to support a family, having to put aside their dreams to accomplish this. They encouraged their children to follow their dreams, which I try to live by every day ( and have a family). To this end, I would say combining art with travel and sharing this with others is most influential to my life as an artist. There is an unpredictability, openness and exploration, experienced through the creative process that I live for.

LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
SB – The figure dominates my work.
I am compelled to create archetypal icons embracing the power of Ancient and contemporary World cultures, overlaid with the spirit of song and dance: Queen Nefertiti meets Lady Gaga. Whether working with fired clay surfaced with lustrously aged infusions, or canvas scrolls of collage and oil paint, my work simultaneously celebrates interconnectedness and individuality.

LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
SB – Complex. We have the world at our fingertips through the internet, and with a growing population, less space, more money necessary to acquire space – life as an artist can be very challenging. At the same time, we have so much freedom and permission to create what is in our souls, to be authentic and individualistic.

LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
SB – Travel to Europe, Mexico, SE Asia. Music – creating and teaching to the rhythms of jazz, blues, tango and opera. My direct inspirations are best described by writer Karen Moe: “The artist references historical women and popular culture in order to build composites of a current ‘self.’ She channels an eclectic mix of past female powerhouses like Frida Kahlo, Queen Nefertiti, Carmen Miranda, Gelede, Catrina Calaveras, Ganesha, South Asian goddesses, Athena and Acropolis Korai, and Alice in Wonderland. The women are ecstatic, gazing at the viewer through layers of past knowledge.”  Karen Moe in SADMAG.

LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you?
SB – I LOVE this Festival! I love that Itsliquid has created a platform where international artists – at all levels of their careers – can exhibit in one of my favourite cities, Venice!! I visited Venice during the Biennale in 2017, after giving an art workshop in Skopelos, Greece. There is a short video of me dancing with joy in St Mark’s Square. This inspired me to submit my performance art video to VIAF! I am inspired by life’s synchronicities!

LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
SB – Pre-existing work that I am so happy to show. The mood of the video, I think, references Carnavale, tho not intentionally. I had a dream to dance with my life size sculptures. I love tap dancing. I was inspired by the Hollywood Musical, “There’s no business like Show Business”. There is a scene where Donald O’Connor kisses Marilyn Monroe. He is swooning. Comes upon a fountain with Roman goddess sculptures. His song and dance bring the sculptures to life, as they dance with him. In my film, I am dancing amongst my sculptures. The back ground for the film are magnified close ups of my sculptures which read as stage sets. The music, choreography, still photography and film making are original, created for me by Canadian talent.

LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
SB – Wonderful! I wish I was there personally to connect with the international artists, collectors, art community…I hope some who see my film will connect with me.

LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
SB – I love the venues. Everyone has done exactly what they say they will.

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SB – Absolutely yes!! I will love to do this again!! Grazie

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Interview: Suzy BirsteinImage courtesy of Suzy Birstein

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