Anna Silver at AMOCA

Anna Silver at AMOCA: Silver Splendor: Reimagining Painting on Ceramic Vessel

It’s interesting to think about an artist’s recognition, especially regarding Anna Silver, my dear friend, confidante, and advisor. Anna recently celebrated her 90th birthday and has produced over 2,500 ceramic pieces in her long career. We celebrated with Anna at the opening of her first solo exhibition at the American Museum of Ceramic Art. The event was well attended, and the energy was fantastic.

Anna Silver is an American ceramic artist whose work pushes the boundaries of traditional techniques and forms. Her artistic practice is centered around the intersection of painting and sculpture, combining classic, functional forms with modern aesthetics to create unique and captivating pieces.

Silver studied with Fernand L├ęger in Paris in the 1950s and later attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, where she was introduced to ceramics by a group of artists, including Peter Voulkos, Michael Frimkess, Billy Al Bengston, and Paul Soldner. Although trained in painting, Silver found her passion in ceramics, which she uses as a platform for exploring three-dimensional painting.

One of the key aspects of Silver’s work is her use of the ceramic vase as a canvas. This allows her to create works that are both beautiful and functional while also drawing attention to the historical and cultural significance of ceramics.

Her paintings on vases are highly detailed and often feature intricate patterns and designs created with a range of techniques, including brushwork, sgraffito, and underglaze painting. The resulting compositions are visually stunning and technically impressive, with a sense of movement and energy that draws the viewer in.

Silver’s work features abstract forms and bold colors, creating a dynamic visual language that is modern and not drawn from any historic ceramic genres. Her pieces are innovative and daring, steering clear of traditional ideas about imagery organization and conventional notions of taste and style. Instead, Silver opts for a pictorial approach that utilizes the entire form to support an overall dynamic composition.

In addition to her vases, Silver also creates sculptural works that explore the possibilities of ceramics as a medium for sculpture. These pieces often feature abstract forms and organic shapes, playing with the tension between form and function and challenging the viewer’s expectations of what ceramic art can be.

Silver’s work is characterized by her use of historical and cultural references, drawing inspiration from traditional textiles, ceramics, and other forms of decorative art, as well as contemporary design and popular culture. This creates a sense of dialogue between past and present, highlighting the ways in which art and culture are constantly evolving and influencing one another.

Overall, Anna Silver’s work is a testament to the ongoing relevance and innovation of ceramics as an art form. Her use of the ceramic vase as a canvas for her paintings creates works that are both beautiful and functional, drawing attention to the rich history and cultural significance of ceramics. Through her use of intricate patterns, bold colors, and cultural references, she creates a sense of dialogue between past and present, while her sculptural works push the boundaries of the medium even further. Silver’s work is not only visually stunning but also intellectually engaging, offering a unique perspective on the role of ceramics in contemporary art.

I wonder if a male artist of this caliber would have to wait that long for this kind of recognition. And on a personal note, Anna has been a close friend and confidant for many years. I am grateful to have her vibrance and wisdom in my life.

The History of AMOCA: A Journey Through Southern California’s Ceramic Art Scene

The American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) is a museum located in Pomona, California that focuses on ceramic art and design. The museum was founded in 2001 by David Armstrong, a ceramic artist, and collector, and opened to the public in 2003.

The historical background of the AMOCA can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Southern California became a hub for the ceramic industry. At the time, companies such as Malibu Potteries and Catalina Pottery were producing a wide range of ceramics, including tiles, tableware, and decorative objects. These companies employed many skilled artisans who helped to develop and refine new techniques and designs.

As the ceramics industry grew in Southern California, so did the interest in ceramic art and design. Many artists began to experiment with ceramics, creating unique pieces that blurred the line between fine art and craft. In the 1950s and 60s, artists such as Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and John Mason helped to establish a new style of ceramic art that emphasized form, texture, and surface decoration.

Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Southern California continued to be a hub for ceramic art and design. Artists such as Ken Price, Ron Nagle, and Adrian Saxe pushed the boundaries of the medium, creating works that were sculptural, conceptual, and highly individualistic. Meanwhile, the popularity of ceramics as a craft and hobby continued to grow, with many enthusiasts and collectors seeking out unique and beautiful pieces.

Against this backdrop, the AMOCA was founded as a way to showcase the rich history and ongoing innovation of ceramic art and design in Southern California and beyond. The museum’s permanent collection includes thousands of pieces, ranging from ancient pottery to contemporary sculpture. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and workshops, serving as a hub for ceramic artists, enthusiasts, and scholars from around the world.

Today, the American Museum of Ceramic Art is recognized as one of the leading institutions dedicated to the study and appreciation of ceramic art and design. Its collection and exhibitions offer a glimpse into the rich history and ongoing vitality of ceramics as an art form, while its educational programs help to inspire and support the next generation of ceramic artists.

March 2019