Silicon Valley Open Studios

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Artist: Barbara M. Berk

Studio: Barbara Berk Designs, LLC

Lace Eight: French Knot
Title: Lace Eight: French Knot
Description: Stainless Steel - Bobbin Lace
Media: Sculpture
Size: 21 x 15 x 6
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Contact Barbara M. Berk



Phone:(650) 281-6534

About Barbara M. Berk

My journey has been circuitous: a childhood love of fabric and sewing; a Master’s Degree in Russian History; over 15 years in magazine publishing. My introduction to antique jewelry led to studies in gemology and metalsmithing – and the discovery that my true passion is working with the metal itself. I learned that metal can be worked like fiber, that sheet and wire can be woven. Most exciting was my realization that structurally sound 3-dimensional forms can be fashioned from the metal “fabric” I make.

I explore strength and beauty, transparency and movement through the interplay of metal with traditional fiber techniques. The physical properties and working characteristics of my materials also influence my work, and enable me to create hanging, wall-mounted and free-standing sculptures.

I work directly with the metal, making bobbin lace with stainless steel and phosphor bronze wire by hand, working flat and straight, off-loom. I then curve, loop, twist, interweave and sew my flat “fabric” into a 3-dimensional form. Within this tapestry of process, material and form, I play with line and pattern, density and texture, and volume and scale.

I embrace the dualities and seeming contradictions inherent in such a tapestry: Soft and Hard. Domestic processes and Industrial materials. Positive and Negative space. Object and Shadow. Thereby animated, my calligraphic abstractions become intriguing, mesmerizing sculptures.

My sculpture has been exhibited in “Reflections and Shadows”, juried by Maria Medua, Director of SFMOMA Artists Gallery at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA (2017); “Not Flat”, Peninsula Sculptors’ Guild at the Museum Studios’ Gallery, Peninsula Museum of Art, Burlingame, CA (2017); “International Fiber Arts VII”, juried by Lia Cook, John Hopper, Kyoko Kumai, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA (2015); “Sculpture: On and Off the Wall”, Peninsula Sculptors’ Guild at the Coastal Arts League, Half Moon Bay, CA (2015).

My handwoven wearable sculpture is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA) and the Museum of the Gemological Institute of America (Carlsbad, CA). It has been exhibited in museums and shows across the US and featured in many publications, including Textile Techniques in Metal for Jewelers, Textile Artists, and Sculptors by Arline Fisch (1996, 2001), in addition to many magazines including Ornament and Metalsmith.