Susan Duhan Felix

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Susan Duhan Felix (July 23, 1937 – February 4, 2023) was an American ceramic artist who lived in Berkeley, California. Felix is well known for creating ceramics using the technique of pit firing.[1][2][3] Her art is heavily influenced by spiritual traditions, especially Judaism.[4][5][1][6] J-Weekly reported that Felix “has works in the collections of some highly regarded Jewish institutions: the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, and the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow.”[7]

Felix served as the first Art Ambassador for the City of Berkeley since 2003, advocating for the arts, attending Berkeley art events, and honoring local artists at City Council meetings.[8][9] The City of Berkeley has twice declared a “Susan D. Felix Day” (March 16, 1989[10][11] and June 20, 1999[12]) to honor her work and artistic contribution to the community. On July 23, 2019, the City of Berkeley presented Felix with a Lifetime Achievement Award.[13] She served on the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission from 1983 to 1989 and was president of this organization from 1985 to 1989.[10] In 2018, Felix began hosting Bay Area ArtBeat, a Cable TV program on the arts that airs on Berkeley Community Media (BCM) channel 28.[14]

In 1979, she was a founding member of the Berkeley Cultural Trust, and she continued to serve on the trust.[15] Felix co-founded the Jewish Arts Community of the Bay (JACOB) the same year and served as executive director from 1989 to 1991.[16][17]

In addition to being an internationally renowned artist, Felix was also a housing activist.[18] In 1979–1999, she served as the first executive director of University Avenue Housing Inc. (also known as UAH), a nonprofit in Berkeley creating low-income housing that was awarded the 1991 Berkeley Peace Prize and was one of the model projects of the Red Cross.[19][11] UAH is also in the San Francisco Department of Housing and Urban Development Hall of Fame.[20] In 1999, Felix received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by Congresswoman Barbara Lee to recognize her service to the community and “honor more than 20 years of service as a non-profit housing developer.”[21] She developed over 120 units of affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area.[22]


Susan Duhan Felix was born in Queens, New York to Eliot Duhan, a physician, and Evelyn Silverman Duhan, a high school Latin teacher. Susan is the oldest of four children. During her childhood, her family lived in a low-income neighborhood, and her father offered medical assistance to many people free of charge.

Susan married the poet Morton Felix in 1957, and in 1959, their daughter Lisa was born. In 1959, Morton, Susan, and other poets in Storrs, Connecticut started the Wormwood Review, a poetry journal.[23][24] From 1965 to 1966 she taught ceramics to students from low-income families at the Thomas A. Doyle School in Providence, Rhode Island.[25] She moved to Berkeley in 1967 and taught at Arts and Crafts Cooperative Incorporated (ACCI) from 1968 to 1978.[26] Felix has served as the Art Commission representative on the Waterfront Advisory Committee,[26] as well as on the State/Local Partnership Advisory Committee of the Alameda Art Commission.[26] Felix was instrumental in the construction of the Peace Wall in the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park.[10] She has also been a member of the San Francisco East Bay Aquarian Minyan, a Jewish Renewal community.[4] Felix helped establish the first center for peace in Providence, Rhode Island.[27] In 1993, Felix was honored by the Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women as an outstanding woman of Berkeley.[28] She has been a member of the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California and showed her work in the San Francisco Clay & Glass Festival in 2000.[29] In 2017, Felix celebrated 60 years of creating art with a solo retrospective exhibit at the Graduate Theological Union Library in Berkeley.[2]

Felix was also a dancer and poet.[10] She was the dancer in the Simcha Orchestra in the 1980s[30] and has participated many times in the “Dance Anywhere!” global celebration.[31] She has led group dance for a variety of public events, including at the Contemporary Jewish Museum[32] and the Northern California Community for Humanistic Judaism.[33] She has also led workshops on spiritual poetry and meditation at Rancho La Puerta in Mexico.[34] She has read her poems at a number of venues, including Po’ Jazz at Cornelia Street Café in New York[35] and the Monticello Inn Library in San Francisco.[36]

Felix died in Berkeley, California, on February 4, 2023, at the age of 85.[37]


In 1958, Felix earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Queens College in New York. In 1961, she earned a Master of Arts in Spiritual Poetry from the University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Exhibitions and Installations[edit]

Felix has displayed her work at the following one-person regime shows:

2017 "Creation: A Susan Duhan Felix Retrospective," Graduate Theological Union Library, Berkeley, CA[2][38]
2015 Cafe Leila, Berkeley, CA[15]
2013-2014 "From Pain Comes Newness," Liz Filmer Gallery, Berkeley, CA[39]
2012-2013 "Susan Duhan Felix: Then & Now," Jewish Heritage Museum, Danville, CA[40]
2012 Chochmat HaLev Gallery, Berkeley, CA
2009 "Mystery Made Manifest," Bade Museum, Berkeley, CA[41]
2008 "Flamed Earth: The Ritual Objects of Susan Duhan Felix," Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, TX[42]
2007 "Flamed Earth: The Ritual Objects of Susan Duhan Felix," Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, New York, NY[43]
2005 "Wholly Grace: The Work of Susan Duhan Felix," Bade Museum, Berkeley, CA[27][44]
1997 "Lights and Vessels solo show," Half Moon Bay Library, Half Moon Bay, CA
1993 "Solo Show," University of Delaware, Newark, DE
1987 Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA[45]
1986 "Darkness to Light: Ceramic Sculpture by Susan Felix," Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA[46][47][48][2]
1983 "…Visions and Revisions…" Gallery of the Oakland Art Association, Oakland, CA[49][50][51]


  1. ^ a b Kaufman, Tamar. 1988. “ALSJCC is Showing Unusual Seder Plates, Purim Masks.” The Northern California Jewish Bulletin (March 18): 38.
  2. ^ a b c d Paull, Laura. 2017. “From Political to Whimsical, a Half-century Career in Ceramic Art.” J. The Jewish News of Northern California. June 21.
  3. ^ Wall, Alix. 2005. “Berkeley Artist Explores Life’s Mysteries in Ceramics.” J. The Jewish News of Northern California. July 15.
  4. ^ a b Gutfreund, Zevi. 1999. “Artist Creates Meaningful ‘Gifts from the Pit.’” The Northern California Jewish Bulletin. July 9.
  5. ^ Kaufman, Tamar. 1986. “Sculptor Combines Judaism, Art and Ancient Techniques.” The Northern California Jewish Bulletin. (July 4): 19.
  6. ^ Morton, Kathryn. 1999. Judaic Artisans Today: Contemporary Judaica in the United States and Those Who Created It. Gaithersburg, MD: Flower Valley Press.
  7. ^ Paull, Laura. 2017. “From Political to Whimsical, a Half-century Career in Ceramic Art.” J. The Jewish News of Northern California. June 21.
  8. ^ “Susan Felix: Berkeley's First ‘Art Ambassador.’” 2004. ACGA News.
  9. ^ Gendler, J. Ruth. 2015. “Berkeley Art Ambassador’s Love of Poems Spawns a Book.” Berkeleyside. January 6.
  10. ^ a b c d “Susan D. Felix Day.” 1989. City of Berkeley Proclamation. March 16.
  11. ^ a b Gilbert, Kelly. 1993. “Sculptor Molds Future for Homeless.” The Review 119, no. 54 (April 30): A8.
  12. ^ “Susan Felix Day.” 1999. City of Berkeley Proclamation. June 20.
  13. ^ Kushner, Eve. 2019. “Berkeley honors arts ambassador Susan Felix with lifetime achievement award.” Berkeleyside. July 23.
  14. ^ "Search results". YouTube.
  15. ^ a b Gendler, J. Ruth. 2015. “Berkeley Art Ambassador’s Love of Poems Spawns a Book.” Berkeleyside. January 6.
  16. ^ Felix, Susan. 1991. “Farewell from Susan.” JACOB’S Letter: Newsletter of the Jewish Arts Community of the Bay. (Summer/Fall): 2.
  17. ^ Kaufman, Tamar. 1986. “Sculptor Combines Judaism, Art and Ancient Techniques.” The Northern California Jewish Bulletin. (July 4): 19.
  18. ^ Sommer, Mark. 1993. “Housing Activist Susan Felix is Changing Berkeley – One Building at a Time.” Cityside. (June 11): 3.
  19. ^ Liberatore, Karen. 1992. “Making Room for the Homeless.” San Francisco Chronicle. October 7.
  20. ^ Harper, Will. 1994. “Model Project or Local Troublemaker?” Berkeley Voice.
  21. ^ Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. 1999. Congress of the United States. June 20.
  22. ^ “Honoring Susan Felix.” 1999. Hills Newspapers. June 10.
  23. ^ Wormwood Review. “The Magazines.” Accessed December 4, 2017.
  24. ^ Wolff, Peter. 1960. “‘The Wormwood Review’: Ex-Queens Luminaries Publish Review.” Phoenix. January 8.
  25. ^ Safford, Edwin. “Class in Ceramics Sees Clay Take on Utility and Beauty.” Providence Evening Bulletin. May 11, 1966.
  26. ^ a b c “Art from Felix, Schomer on Exhibit.” 1984. The Berkeley Voice. September 26.
  27. ^ a b Bryant, Dorothy. 2005. “Mending Shards, Mending Life: Susan Duhan Felix Exhibit Opens at Badé Museum.” The Berkeley Daily Planet. July 22–25.
  28. ^ Neunsinger, Anne. 1993. “City Honors Outstanding Women.” Hills Publications. April 8.
  29. ^ “Classy Glass: The S.F. Clay & Glass Festival Debuts at the Fort Mason Center.” 2000. San Francisco Examiner Magazine. (November 5): 19.
  30. ^ “Chanukkah Chai-jinks Cabaret.” 1982-1983. Center Voice 2, no. 12. (December/January).
  31. ^ Kerr, R. Todd. 2016. “Dance Anywhere! 2016.” Berkeley Times. March.
  32. ^ Hu, Janny. 2009. “Mixer with Manischewitz. The San Francisco Chronicle. July 4.
  33. ^ “Shabbat Celebration Set by Kol Shelanu.” 1983. Northern California Jewish Bulletin. November 4.
  34. ^ “Meditation and Poetry Week with Phyllis Pigram and Susan Felix.” 2017. Rancho La Puerta Catalog. October 7.
  35. ^ “Po’ Jazz.” 2007. Cornelia Street Café, New York. June 21.
  36. ^ “The Poetry of Romance.” 2006. Monticello Inn Library, San Francisco. May 24.
  37. ^ Wall, Alix. "Ceramicist, 'welcomer' and Klezmer 'impresario' Susan Felix dies at 85". The Jewish News of Northern California. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  38. ^ “Stayed Amazed: Susan Duhan Felix.” 2017. Berkeley Times. May 25.
  39. ^ Poetry Flash. 2017. “Calendar.” December 8. Accessed December 4, 2017.
  40. ^ “Closing reception for Susan Felix Exhibit.” The Reutlinger Community. Accessed December 4, 2017.
  41. ^ Rufus, Anneli. 2009. “Healing the Cracks.” East Bay Express 31, issue 37 (June 24–30).
  42. ^ Berns, Suzan. 2007. “Faces.” J. The Jewish News of Northern California. November 30.
  43. ^ “HUC-JIR New York Museum Features Susan Dehan Felix Exhibit; Now through January 25, 2008.” 2007. Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion. July 2. Accessed December 4, 2017.
  44. ^ Wall, Alix. 2005. “Berkeley Artist Explores Life’s Mysteries in Ceramics.” J. – The Jewish News of Northern California. July 15.
  45. ^ Hurley, Ann. 1987. “Local Ceramicist’s Works of and for Art: Susan Felix Works to Promote Artistic Interests within the Community.” The Voice. May 14.
  46. ^ “Felix Ceramics at Magnes Museum.” 1986. Co-op News. May 26.
  47. ^ “Magnes Opens Ceramic Show.” 1986. The Northern California Jewish Bulletin. May 30.
  48. ^ “Local Sculpture.” 1986. The Voice. August 27.
  49. ^ “Co-op activist Felix exhibits ceramics.” 1983. Co-op News. September 5.
  50. ^ “Ceramic forms.” 1983. The Berkeley Voice. (September 7): 7.
  51. ^ “Visions of Clay.” 1983. The Berkeley Gazette. (October 25): 14.

External links[edit]