By T. Jeffrey Georgantes, Director of the Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio, Hopkins Center
This month, the Upper Valley is incredibly lucky to have Robert Ebendorf, a contemporary American jewelry master, visit for a public talk, a workshop and an exhibition, co-sponsored by Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts, Craft Studies at the Hanover League of NH Craftsmen and the Designer Gold Gallery.
Robert Ebendorf’s influence on contemporary jewelry design can’t be overstated. Ebendorf was part of a historic wave, along with J. Fred Woell, Ramona Solberg and others, that helped redefine what preciousness in objects represents. Jewelry is all about preciousness; these artists broke free of traditional gold, silver and gemstones. They looked for inherent preciousness in found objects and brought personal meaning into their work.
Trained as a classical jeweler/metalsmith, in 1962, Robert Ebendorf received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Norway. He returned to Norway again in 1965-66 to study Scandinavian silversmithing. When he returned to the US, it was a very different place. The late ’60s were a time of turbulent change that affected most aspects of our culture, and jewelry was no exception. Questioning the most basic premises of his art, Ebendorf began working with materials he found beautiful but which lacked monetary value, he told the blog Form & Concept in 2017. “I was in the forest by myself for quite a while, in a sense. I made such a radical swing from making jewelry with silver and stones—I was never big with gold and diamonds. So when that was happening, I kept thinking, ‘Who’s going to be interested in this work?’ I had to contemplate that and make that choice. I stayed with it and pursued it.” In fact, Ebendorf went on to become one of the most important influences in American craft.
Numerous events offer Upper Valley residents and the Dartmouth community a chance to interact with Ebendorf and his philosophy and work:
On April 13, 6-7 pm, the Hopkins Center for the Arts is presenting a free public talk by Robert Ebendorf, titled “Ebendorf in Creative Forward Motion.”
Then on April 14 & 15, Ebendorf will teach a workshop, “Design, Layout and Color—An Exploration of Creating” at Craft Studies at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, 13 Lebanon Street, Hanover. This very special workshop is open to artists of all medias and no previous experience is required.
More about Robert Ebendorf: After obtaining his BFA in 1960, his MFA in 1962, in 1963, he received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Norway. He returned to Norway again in 1965-66 under a Tiffany Grant. He has taught at the University of Georgia (1967-71), State University of New York at New Paltz (1971-88) and at East Carolina University (1998-2016) where he served as the Belk Distinguished Professor. His is a recipient of the American Craft Council Fellowship for his achievement in craft. Ebendorf is co-founder and past-president of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) and has received their Lifetime Achievement Award. He also has received the North Carolina Governor’s Award. He is a participant of the Smithsonian Archives of American Oral Art History Program. His work is in many permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum (England), the Smithsonian and the Yale University Gallery.