Suzy Birstein

Being an artist gives me a focus, challenge, and haven to which I can retreat from the overstimulation of my life as a woman, mother, and teacher. It is what makes me feel intensely connected to myself, my surroundings, and the creators of world cultures, – both past and present.

When the work itself speaks to the viewer and releases its own sense of creativity, integrity, and inner joy, to me, that’s pure magic.

Suzy Birstein

Great Work!
An Overview of Contemporary British Columbia Artists
by Melanie Gold

Suzy BirsteinAs a child, I studied dance while absorbing Hollywood musicals, film noire, and the mysteries of Rembrandt. As an adult, I’ve been seduced by the sensuality, spontaneity, and intellectual activity of working with clay, colour, and the essence of romance.

I now see my imagery as a marriage of my childhood and adult influences. The figure dominates my work. I feel compelled to create archetypal icons which embrace the power of ancient and contemporary world cultures, overlaid with the spirit of song and dance.

My work synthesizes and celebrates the interconnectedness as well as the individuality of many cultures and eras. I long to urge the power of Nefertiti with the spirit of Carmen Miranda.

I graduated from the Emily Carr School of Art with an Honours Diploma in Ceramics and I have worked and taught from my home-based studio for twenty years.

I am inspired by the visual and spiritual impact of art from ancient and contemporary folklore of world cultures, particularly Mexico, Greece, India, Southeast Asia and Africa. I am inspired by Picasso, Modigliani, Frida Kahlo, Beatrice Wood, Busby Berkeley, Ganesha, and Melanie. I create to the rhythms of jazz, blues, tango, and opera – especially the music of Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter, Astor Piazzola and Eartha Kitt.

My desire to celebrate the everyday things in life is expressed through my colourful hand-built pottery. The physical construction of overlapping slabs of clay initially evoked figurative imagery. Then the stream-of-consciousness drawings on my pots beckoned to become sculptures. These evolved into exotic “Portrait Masks”, double-sided “Duet Busts”, and multi-faceted “Spirit Bottles” carrying poetic and musical messages.

Suzy Birstein – A Return to the Muses of Greece
Melding Cultures by Suzanne Fournier
Ceramics: Art and Perception – 2010 – PDF

Teaching Children Art

As an art educator and practicing artist, I am able to nurture emerging and experienced artists of all ages. My sources of inspiration come from both the ancient and contemporary world and include folkloric cultures, music, film, dance and the pantheon of artistic greats such as Picasso, Chagall, and Frida Kahlo. By interpreting these themes in a way that is relevant today, children are encouraged to express their inner voices.

Participating in art camps and programs allows children to develop their artistic skills and express themselves. Children can learn and explore their artistic muse through various media and techniques, including, ceramics, drawing, painting, mosaics, papier-mache and more.

We now know that we all learn in different ways. The skills learned in the studio are transformed into life skills. There is an openness, receptiveness, and sensitivity that go along with learning the technical and critical skills to manipulate materials and express imagination. Experimentation, decision making, risk taking, recognizing mistakes as opportunities, these all provide us with the self-confidence, motivation and inspiration to understand our world and carve our dreams within it.

Learning about different cultures and their art through the hands-on experience of creating gives us an intimate connection with those cultures. This understanding and appreciation creates a familiarity that helps develop better relationships within our multi-cultural world. As time passes, this may inspire our children to travel, study or volunteer amongst different cultures envisioning themselves as useful compassionate world citizens engaged with the world and their place within it – hopefully bringing us closer to Juliana’s wish for world peace.

Teaching Children Art

Motion Pitcher Motion Pitcher
Mia Muse Mia Muse

My DeLovely Fever
Suzy Birstein in performance – Film


Emily Carr School of Art