Canwest News Service
The Gazette Montreal
When Suzy Birstein was a kid, she used to write letters to movie stars inviting them to come and stay on the fold-out couch in her family’s basement.
No one took her up on the offer, but she wound up with a lot of photos that the stars would send to her, photos that now hang in her studio.
So it seems fitting that her wonderfully creative and funky sculptures should be chosen to be presented to this year’s Oscar nominees, plus host Jon Stewart.
It’s like these movie stars have been watching over me.
The Vancouver ceramic artist created pitchers for the nominees, something that she started working on last fall.
Aside from a glitch when her kiln konked out, it’s been the ride of a lifetime.
Each of the 38 pitchers that Birstein sent to Hollywood are different, as are the life-sized works she’s creating now. These sculptures originally were all clay, but then her first one broke at the base when she went to put it into the kiln. So Birstein found ready-made columns and worked from there. The results are tall, brightly coloured figures that are as different from each other as they are from front to back.
Birstein cites among her influences both ancient and contemporary folkloric cultures, particularly those of Mexico, Greece, India, Asia and Africa and counts, among others, Picasso, Modigliani and Frida Kahlo as her influences.
And when she’s not sculpting, she’s taking tap dancing or working on her upcoming exhibit, which will feature her new works plus her own film. Asked if she can purchase vacation property with her Oscar proceeds, Birstein laughs. “I’d like to travel somewhere. I’d love to go to India.”