Susan Eisenberg: 2016-17 VSA

In October 2016, CEW hosted Susan Eisenberg as its 2016-17 Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist

A multidisciplinary artist and educator, Susan Eisenberg re-imagines the everyday, playing with scale and juxtaposition to investigate issues of power and social policy. She is a Resident Artist/Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, where she focuses on projects that address patient-centered medical care and employment equity.   

Ms. Eisenberg directs the On Equal Terms Project, a traveling exhibit that celebrates the craft and experiences of women in the male-dominated construction and skilled trades industries. Despite regulations in 1978 that should have opened up roughly 25% of skilled trades jobs to women, women have held only 2.5% of construction jobs since 1981. One cause for women's reduced participation is the "Dangerous Sexism" documented in the exhibit and described in ColorLines magazine. For her VSA project, Eisenberg is transforming her three-dimensional exhibit into a more broadly available website exhibit.  (We'll publish the new site here as soon as it's complete!)

                                                                   "Stella" is a life-sized representation of a woman line worker in the On Equal Terms exhibit 

While in Michigan, Eisenberg also interviewed women line-workers in the utility industry for a nonfiction book entitled High Voltage Women: Power Lines and the Legacy of Men’s Work.  This book will update and deepen findings from an earlier work entitled We’ll Call You If We Need You.   

Audiences Enjoyed These Special VSA Events:

In a presentation co-hosted by the Institute for Research on Women & Gender, the Women in Science & Engineering Program, and the Women's Studies department, Eisenberg demonstrated how art can be used to renew public and political interest in this topic of economic importance to women and the nation.                         


IRWG Director Sarah Fenstermaker                            Tags show derogatory comments made by coworkers           Cheryl Mayes, a UM staff member from Plant
with Susan Eisenberg                                                   about women in the skilled trades.                                            Operations, asks a question.

In a separate event co-sponsored by IRWG, Eisenberg read from her latest book of poetry and photography, Perpetual Care. 

After being diagnosed with lupus, Eisenberg describes "finding her voice and sense of humor" again as she created 3-D art installations using her own medication bottles set against the lush vistas and historic monuments of a nearby Victorian cemetery. Perpetual Care captures a wide array of emotions experienced by patients with chronic illness in the modern health care system.

To explore more of Susan Eisenberg's poems, books, essays and art, visit