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In Process Jewelry Demonstration: Robert Ebendorf
August 12 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm| Free
“It’s about not being afraid to put diamonds and pearls with broken glass and bone,” says Robert Ebendorf. The master jeweler’s mixed-media philosophy comes from nearly six decades of working with found objects. When you’re a self-proclaimed “gleaner,” life is an endless treasure hunt. Ebendorf’s innovative work has landed in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum. As form & concept’s newest represented artist, Ebendorf will appear in the gallery for an In Process Jewelry Demonstration on Saturday, August 12 from 2-4 pm.
Since his childhood in Kansas, Ebendorf (b. 1938) has been an avid collector of peculiar objects. “I would glean the alleys with my little wagon, going from one trash box to the next,” he says. “I’d bring all of the treasures I found back to the garage, and arrange them on a little shelf that my dad let me claim.” Later, when he was pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at University of Kansas, he started incorporating peculiar odds and ends into his work.
The practice appealed to his sense of compassion for abandoned objects, a feeling that he ties to humanity’s innate awareness of mortality. “When I see broken things at the flea market, they look wounded. They’re going to end up in a landfill,” Ebendorf says. “I enjoy picking up those lost souls and bringing them into a new context.” He completed his BFA in 1960, and earned an MFA at University of Kansas in 1963. After that, he traveled to Oslo, Norway to study at the State School of Applied Arts and Crafts as a Fulbright Scholar.
From there, he showed in numerous exhibitions, won prestigious awards and taught art at various institutions for 57 years. He hit a career high in 2003, when he debuted a solo exhibition of 96 works at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery. Ebendorf’s work is represented in 29 museums worldwide. He was one of the founding members of the Society of North American Goldsmiths in 1970, and was awarded the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
Now living in Santa Fe, Ebendorf remains a creative pioneer at the jagged intersection of art, craft and design. The wearable sculptures that appear in the form & concept shop feature countless materials, from a rusty spoon that the artist discovered on the Alaskan shore to a possum jawbone that he picked up on one of his long walks. Each object is elegantly incorporated into the larger piece, allowing the viewer to see it with fresh eyes. “I’m very radical in the way I work,” says Ebendorf. “Color is important, and composition. I put the ideas together and make a decision on what technical skills I need to employ that will bring the ideas to fruition.”
At the jewelry design demonstration, Ebendorf will reveal a wide variety of techniques he uses in his work. “The tools and techniques I use have been passed down to me from a family of makers that stretches back to the 16th century,” he says.