Oral history interview with Robert Ebendorf, 2004 April 16-18
Ebendorf, Robert, 1938-
Rosolowski, Tacey A.
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 96 pages
Originally recorded on 5 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 9 digital wav files. Duration is 6 hr., 29 min.
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Transcript available on the Archives of American Art website.
An interview of Robert Ebendorf conducted 2004 April 16-18, by Tacey Rosolowski, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Greenville, N.C.
Ebendorf speaks of growing up in Topeka, Kansas; spending time in his grandparents' tailor shop; his relationship with his parents; having difficulties in school; making jewelry in arts and crafts class; meeting Carlyle Smith and deciding to study art at the University of Kansas; staying at the University of Kansas to get his MFA in Three-Dimensional Design; taking part in important early exhibitions including the "Wichita National"; collaging in his artwork and letters; how his art professors including, Robert Montgomery, mentored him; studying metal craft in Norway on a Fulbright; getting a job teaching at Stetson University; returning to Norway on a Tiffany Grant and working in a goldsmith shop; rebuilding the metals program at the University of Georgia; traveling to Norway once again and designing for the David Anderson Firm; experimenting with mixed media and found objects in his work; exhibiting at the Susan Cummins Gallery; hunting for objects with his daughter Brittany; teaching at SUNY New Paltz; using the ColorCore material; expressing both the masculine and feminine in his art; and making crafts with his mother.
Ebendorf also speaks of his current daily routine and the importance of a home studio; the influence of Scandinavian art on his work, especially the art of Claus Bury; doing work on commission; teaching at Penland School of Crafts and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; taking part in the founding of the Society of North American Goldsmiths and serving as President; teaching at East Carolina University; preparing students for a career in metalsmithing; the changing trends in American and European jewelry; organizing the "Conversations" series of workshops at SUNY New Paltz; reading various art publications and the need for more critical writing about craft; selling work at craft fairs; the challenges of working with various galleries and museums; the importance of his work Lost Souls and Found Spirits; his recent retrospective "The Jewelry of Robert Ebendorf: A Retrospective of Forty Years;" and his current work and plans for the future. Ebendorf also recalls Kurt Matzdorf, Fred Woell, Bill Brown, Philip Morton, Ronald Pearson, L. Brent Kington, Linda Darty, Jamie Bennett, Earl Krentzin, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Ebendorf, 2004 April 16-18. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Transcript available on-line
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Robert Ebendorf (1938- ) is a metalsmith from Greenville, North Carolina. Tacey A. Rosolowski is an art historian from Washington, D.C.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001