Eberle Survey Covers Three Decades of Work by Prolific Ceramic Artist

Edward Eberle, “Chest,” 1993. Porcelain, terra sigillata. 10¼ x 16 x 14 inches. Photo by Adam Milliron.

Eberle’s paper-thin vessels are enchantingly beautiful. Drawing from stream-of-consciousness, the black and white imagery in his pieces stirs the imagination and showcases his exceptional skill.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is pleased to host the first career retrospective of work by Pittsburgh-based ceramic artist, Edward Eberle (b. 1944, Tarentum, PA).

Over the past three decades, Eberle has explored and tested the limits of porcelain, with his prolific body of work ranging from classically inspired vessels to altered and deconstructed sculptures. The retrospective brings works from the mid-1980s to the present into dialogue, allowing visitors to discover the timeless and intriguing work of a true master. Comprised of over 40 works, the show highlights the evolution of Eberle’s exquisite forms and fragmented dreamlike imagery by featuring both his trademark porcelain work, as well as a series of works on paper. Audiences will see paper-thin wheel-thrown vessels of both closed and open forms, as well as more conceptual pieces from the early 2000s. The exhibition culminates with examples of the artist’s most recent mixed-media sculptures and large paper cylinders.

“Looking back at earlier work has been revealing,” notes Eberle. “I see that some periods have been particularly strong, and I’m learning from them all over again. I’m appreciating where the work has gone, but I’m very careful not to look back too hard. My work has to be right now, in the present. I keep the ‘Retrospective’ at a distance, while still appreciating it.”

Using black and white “terra sigillata” to embellish the surface and create contrasting images, patterns, and textures, Eberle then paints his works with elaborately interlinked human, animal, and celestial forms. “As soon as that black hit the white, I knew what I had been hunting for,” the artist recalls, discovering what would become his signature method. “And I had been hunting for a long time.”

Eberle’s ceramics are influenced by the Oribe and Kutani periods in Japan, the black-on-white Mimbre bowls of Southwestern New Mexico, and Pysanky (Ukranian Easter eggs). His painting and sculpture influences include the works of Picasso, Miro, Duchamp, Klee, and de Kooning, among others.

HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall commented, “As the third venue on a national tour of the exhibition, HCCC is excited to partner with the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh to bring Edward Eberle’s work to Houston. Eberle’s paper-thin vessels are enchantingly beautiful. Drawing from stream-of-consciousness, the black and white…

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