Art As Social Inquiry

artist bio


Follow Pussi on Twitter — @ArtAsInquiry Pussi Artist is the painter/writer/performance artist behind Art As Social Inquiry.

Pussi is a self-described “documentary portrait painter.” She use portrait painting to document the impact of social issues on people.

A word about the name “Pussi Artist” from the artist: “As an artist, I explore the human condition. I am using my very name as a way to move us into the deep, sometimes unconscious parts of ourselves where we justify actions we suspect or know to be wrong, and do them anyway. As good, moral, and kind people we’re uncomfortable, but we talk ourselves out of our objections. Where is that place in us? What does it look and feel like? What are the thought processes required of us where we can overlook Trump’s depraved comments leaked during the campaign, for example? What inner mechanisms did we engage to bring ourselves to overlook our discomfort and accept Trump as President of the United States? (Or anytime we overlook something very distasteful and go along anyway.)

“I rechristened myself Pussi as a constant reminder to self-reflect as a country. Who are we?  If we can overlook so much then let’s reoccupy that same inner space, and overcome our discomfort when calling me Pussi

“This is performance art. It is meant to bypass intellect and put us face-to-face with ourselves.” 


More about the artist:

Theresa Pussi Artist BrownGold is the painter/writer/performance artist/songwriter behind Art As Social Inquiry. She uses art to start dialog around social issues – access to healthcare, immigration, war and dying.

The artist paints large, expressive faces as a way to tell personal stories and connect the viewers to those stories…to real people

Theresa shares her work at conferences, churches, community centers, civic groups and classrooms.

The artist has been using art to look at healthcare in the US since 2008. She continues to interview people and tell their stories about how they get (or not) health insurance. The Healthcare in the US painting series looks at how health policy directly affects people’s lives. For more on each subject, click the portrait for the story. “I’ll be painting healthcare in this country until health policy is settled or I die, whichever comes first,” the artist says.

In  her art project, How We Die, Theresa uses art to investigate how people actually die, what they fear, and how different cultures around the world view death. She hopes to learn about the death rituals of many cultures as a way to understand how we can fully live. The artworks she creates mirror  our fears and cultural conditioning, and tacitly ask, “How could we more fully live if we are not afraid to die?”

The artist sometimes uses her art to publicly demonstrate in public spaces as a way of bringing awareness to an issue. She stood with her healthcare portraits in front of the US Supreme Court and Capitol in Washington DC for five months to underscore the difficulties Americans were having getting healthcare. She  continues to document this next chapter in our nation’s healthcare story by interviewing and painting portraits of people who are impacted by the Affordable Care Act, or future Republican plans. The artist is over 60 portraits into what will be a 100 portrait traveling exhibit about healthcare. 

Her work has been featured in many interviews, publications and television. Check press and recent news on the Art As Social Inquiry website for press info, pictures, and links to interviews.

To inquire about booking a talk, please contact

The artist has given talks at conferences held by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, The Physicians for a National Health Program, the 2012 PA Progressive Summit, and other venues. Pussi and her project, Art As Social Inquiry, have been featured in her local newspaper, ZDF television, WHYY’s Coming of Age, and other outlets. In 2011 Theresa received the Georgeanne Koehler Activist of the Year Award from PA Health Access Network.  Check press and recent news  for press info, pictures, and links.

In 2013 the artist completed the PA Health Access Network’s (PHAN) training to become a certified Affordable Care Act presenter for PHAN.


At first I told my website designer to write, “The artist refuses to provide a bio. My apologies.” He guilted me into writing something. (Original bio below next bit.) But first…

I’m interrupting this bio to give you Chapter 2 on the bio saga. My web guy says that I’ve gotten you all the way to this page, I’ve PIQUED YOUR INTEREST, and my original bio (below) does not reward you for your interest when you get here. AND he says that my gentle spoof on bios with my original bio…well, sorta isn’t that “spoofy.” There’s an age difference between us. You see, I’m playing, and he’s trying to build a great website. Gotta love him. SO, I’m going to give you the conversation we had.

ME: Look, I don’t want to write a blah, blah, blah, I did this then and blah that on that date, blah, blah, blah.

HIM: You’re not even telling people how you got the idea Art As Social Inquiry. They don’t care if you don’t like your beverages cold. You are telling them NOTHING!

ME: (I’m thinking he is right. Yet I did say exactly what I was in the moment I wrote it. That was all true. But that’s not a bio. That’s a diary? So I said… ) You know, I, like most people, have had opinions all my life. And nothing changes because of them, not the world, not the problems, not other people. My opinions change as I change. What role do opinions play in finding solutions to problems? There’s got to be something more and I wonder what? Art As Social Inquiry invites opinions on social issues. It’s a project that doesn’t pretend to have solutions. Somewhere in this vast maze of opinions must lie a way out of the divisiveness of “right and wrong.” And so, why not use art as a “collector of opinions.” And see what happens?

HIM: Well, that’s a lot more interesting than your bio. Write that.

P.S. My son-the-web-guy gives me the thumbs up on the above, wants me to delete below.

ORIGINAL BIO. Reading it, optional.

I don’t like my beverages too cold. When I get “stuck” I look at Alice Neel’s paintings and remember, “O yeah, just paint and everything will work out.” I have always wanted to do the the voiceover for Frontline. I lost 1/2 inch in height since I was a teenager. I love hanging wash on a line to dry. It reminds me of my grandmother. And, when I take it down I like looking at the sky and being reminded that I am a microcosm of the Universe. And if planets and stars and black holes and infinity and oceans and volcanoes and lightning bugs and lilacs and snow and air and modern plumbing can exist then I should be able to do something as simple as…fill in the blank. Time is an illusion. I get that. Does that mean that my memories make me a figment of my own imagination? So much for this bio. I loved playing field hockey in high school. I love and like my husband and kids. I like my dog too but I have issues with her old-aged barking (nagging). Is that bad? I am very grateful to my teachers at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. They always set the bar high and then provided a knee on which to stand to reach it. (And they managed to do this despite my haphazard attendance through the Continuing Ed department.) Favorite smelling herb, cilantro. Favorite eating herb, basil. Favorite smells while walking, honeysuckle and lilac. Favorite paint color, cadmium green (for the moment). A favorite artist I thought I’d paint like, and am as far from her as I am to throwing the javelin in the Olympics (or anywhere else for that matter), Elizabeth Louise Vigee LeBrun. Favorite movie, Babette’s Feast. Favorite Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life… Yes, it is.