For the past twenty-five years, Robert Ebendorf has been re-purposing existing materials by devising ingenious uses for the discarded and discovering ways to make the used into the new. Known for contemporary jewelry that includes everything from buttons to crab claws, he continues in his investigations into “representations.”
Ebendorf’s conceptual approach to jewelry questions the nature of adornment itself and explores alternative materials and ideas about the preciousness of jewelry. The creativity of his jewelry lies not only in the intellectual repositioning of familiar objects, but more in the physical transformations of materials that astonish the viewer. It is exactly this sense of astonishment that gives his pieces their value. The profound incongruity between what his pieces are made from, and what they become in his hands, engages the imagination.
Ebendorf’s objects are not simply about refashioning the mundane, they elevate the value of what might otherwise be thrown away or overlooked. By reassessing the meaning of the artifacts of daily life, his pieces often reverse the idea of what is precious. If the purpose of art is to locate and reaffirm values in our world, then this work is a most relevant mode of contemporary expression.
Ebendorf was born in 1938 in Topeka, KS. He received his BFA in 1960 and his MFA in 1962, both from the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Following graduation, he received a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the State School of Applied Arts and Crafts in Norway. He has taught at the University of Georgia (1967- 71) and State University of New York at New Paltz (1971-88).
Ebendorf received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Grant in 1966/67. In 1995, he was awarded the American Craft Council Fellowship for his achievement in craft and commitment to the craft movement. He is a co-founder and past president of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG).
He is represented in many worldwide collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Mint Museum of Craft Design in Charlotte, NC, Le Musee des Arts Decoratifs de Montreal, National Museum of Wales and The Schmuck Museum in Pforzheim, to name a few.
Current exhibitions include “Jewelry of Robert Ebendorf, A Retrospective of Forty Years,” held at the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin. He serves as the Belk Distinguished Professor in the Arts at the East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. While living in North Carolina, he received the 2010 North Carolina Governor’s Award in the Arts. Ebendorf was recently invited by the Smithsonian Institution to participate in its Archives of American Art Oral History Program.
Belt Buckle Expo 202027 Mar - 18 Jul 2020Belt Buckle Expo 2020, juried by artists and buckle enthusiasts Bryan Peterson and Robert Ebendorf, returns for its second year at form & concept gallery. Forty buckles, from copper blooming...
OBJECTS: REDUX—50 Years of Craft Evolution31 Jan - 30 Apr 2020OBJECTS: REDUX has been extended through the month of April. In 1969, the Smithsonian American Art Museum debuted OBJECTS: USA, a sprawling exhibition featuring 308 craft artists and over 500...
Belt Buckle ExpoSelections from the 2019 World Champion Belt Buckle Competition 26 Jul - 12 Oct 2019Exhibition page for Belt Buckle Expo: Selections from the 2019 World Champion Belt Buckle Competition at Form and Concept Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This international group show of wearable artworks was organized by metalsmiths Bryan Petersen and Tom Muir, and presented in conjunction with Montana State University.
Six Years Smitten26 Jul - 12 Oct 2019“It started with a community of makers who wanted to create in a radical new way,” says Marissa Saneholtz, one of the co-founders of the Smitten Forum. Every year since...
Macrocosm: Large Works Show30 Nov - 31 Dec 2018While artists from our 2018 programming pare their work down to 8 x 10 inches in our MICROCOSM exhibition, our jewelry artists will undertake a more expansive challenge. For its...
MICROCOSM: Small Works Invitational24 Nov - 23 Dec 2017“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together,” said Vincent Van Gogh. form & concept takes this thought to its logical conclusion in MICROCOSM, a holiday...
Studio Visit: Robert EbendorfAugust 26, 2017'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. Now he's form & concept's newest represented artist. We visited Ebendorf's studio to talk about his remarkable career, philosophy of design...