Robert Silverman has been a ceramic artist for more than 30 years. The founder of Alsio Design in Brooklyn, Silverman trained with Japanese Master Potter Samejima Saturo and received his MFA from Alfred University in 1983. His work appears in the collections of the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands, the Museum of Art and Design in New York City and in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington D.C.
Silverman exhibited recently at Ferrin Contemporary’s Glazed & Diffused (June 20 – Aug. 16, North Adams, Mass.). He presented a series of tiled works, Tirana, an homage to artist Edi Rama who became the mayor of Tirana, Albania in October 2000. The works commemorate old soviet architecture and Rama’s bold plan to turn them into a refreshing source of beauty, rather than a reminder of the political past. The story reminds us of similar public works projects that have attempted to heal the soul of a community, in particular of the tile mosiacs that have gone up in the city of Jacmel after an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010.
Silverman’s works blend tile, exquisite glaze work and hints of architecture as well as narrative. From the artist:
“At that time the capital city was a downtrodden remnant of the Soviet Union. The city budget was squandered, corruption was rampant and crime was the norm. But Rama had an idea to raise the spirits of his town — he painted many of the grey buildings loud colors and bold designs.
“When the colored buildings began to multiply, a mood of change started to transform the spirit of the people. There was less litter in the streets, people started to pay taxes. As Rama said ‘Beauty was giving people a feeling of being protected. This was not a misplaced feeling — crime did fall.’
Inspired by Rama’s vision, I use everyday commercial tile and glaze materials to create surfaces and imagery that blur the traditional lines drawn between art, design and architecture. In doing this I hope to elevate everyday materials and give them meaning beyond their manufactured intent.”
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