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Today's Woman

Breaking the Mold
How a woman from Naugatuck traded security to pursue a dream

NAUGATUCK - It's OK to frame art and hang it on the wall. But Susan Steinberg prefers to create art that you can use in your every life.

"As an artist, I've done paintings and you have to frame them and everything," she explained in the kitchen of her home off Goodyear Avenue here.

"Also, you can't use it. This," she said as she pointed to several ceramic plates with her artwork on them, "you can eat off it. It's also already done. Once you paint and glaze it it's over."

After working as an art and special education teacher, Steinberg has decided to see if she can support herself as an artist. last AUVA Steinberg decided to devote 12 to 18 niondm to her art career.

Teaching can be very rewarding, but Steinberg said she found it hard to leave her students' problems at school when the final bell mng.

"I got too involved," said Steinberg, who has a master's degree in school psychology from Southern Connecticut State University.

Her artistic temperament which makes her an emotional person, can't be turned off like a faucet, she said.

"It's like going to New York. I walk around and love it but I see things that hurt me and make me cry."

Now Steinberg makes her own schedule.

"My life isn't structured by other people's times," she said. "I can't go with bells. I just rebel against that.?'
But that doesn't mean it was easy for Steinberg to leave teaching.

"When I first quit my job, I really freaked out. I thought, 'What am I doing? I've worked all these years - the money, the insurance. It's what I really want to do.'"

Steinberg has a representative and her work is selling. Bergdorfs is considering one of her pieces. Another big store also is looking at one of her works. If either one comes through, that could mean an order of as many as 300 pieces.

Choosing ceramic instead of canvas, Steinberg said she likes that her art is useful. She creates her art on ceramic crafted by Stephanie Schaad, owner of Artistic Creations on Route 64 in Middlebury.

Schaad said she likes what Steinberg does to the plates, pitchers, cups and other objects she creates.

"I love it. I think they're absolutely gorgeous," Schaad said. "She's just kind of made it her little niche in the world finding places to sell them."

Basically you'll find happy things flowers, tropical scenes, a smiling sun - in Steinberg's work. She's a big fan of primitive art and finds inspiration in many different places.

"I look a lot in museums, books, magazines. I go to New York and look in stores," she said. "I am really visual. I'm aware of it all. I go to the city and look at everything. I look in windows to see what's the image they're trying to sell and to see what's next in fashion."

As a former textile designer, she has a real feel for patterns.

"The freer it is, the more I like it," she said.

Yoga.is one way Steinberg has found to free her life of stress. It also helps her take better care of herself, she said.

"Yoga takes away some of the stress and tension. It loosens. everything up nice. I'm more in touch with myself and true to who I am," she said.

Steinberg doesn't remember a time when she wasn't interested in art. It didn't hurt that her mother was an artist, who with two other women opened a gallery in the 1970s.

Along the lines of useful art, Steinberg has some other ideas she said she hopes to pursue,

"I'd like to do home decor - wallpaper, bedspreads, tablecloths."

Surrounding people with art sounds good to Steinberg, she said.

"Living with it. living in it. Making environments brighter and happier," she said.

Continuing to support herself through her art is Steinberg's goal.

"I love doing this."