Amelia Rosenberg, 2018 BFA Candidate

Tell Tale

Amelia Rosenberg, BFA Senior Exhibition, Tell Tale
Opening Reception: November 9, 2018, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
S. Tucker Cooke Gallery, Owen Hall
Exhibition on view November 9-20, 2018

Free and Open to the Public

Artist Statement: Nearly eight decades ago the Wallach brothers, Moritz and Julius, and their families were forced from their homeland due to the anti-Semitism that dictated Nazi Germany. Before their displacement, the brothers made their livelihood by collecting, creating, and reproducing German folk art. The Holocaust scattered the Jewish family, and their collection of handmade folk art and craft dispersed. Passion and artistry fueled the Wallach brothers’ success and led them to emerge as two of the most instrumental German folk art collectors and preservationists before World War Two. Traditional art collected for their museum, The Wallach House of Folk Art, included textiles, wood blocks, clothing, and decorated furniture.  This research and corresponding artwork explores how traditional German folk art and the Wallach history can be represented within contemporary ceramic work. The history, patterns, and styles present in German folk art were investigated over a five-week period at historical locations, museum archives, and local art manufacturers throughout Europe. The thorough analysis of the Wallach history was conducted with assistance from local historians and folk art scholars. Artwork created around this research delves into Jewish artistic history, and examines the significance of folk art within Germany. The artist also explores the future of Wallach art and artifacts within a modern context. The combination of color, form, and design allow for the exploration of the Wallach enterprise in a contemporary ceramic environment.  Utilizing the ceramic medium, the artist incorporates aspects of German artistic history and contemporary technique to highlight the importance of folk art and its transformation throughout the Jewish community and its history.--Rosenberg, October 2018

     Amelia Rosenberg chronicles her ancestry in clay. The clay blooms or folds, turning under or over according to Rosenberg’s desire. Rosenberg carves at these forms meticulously, deriving patterns and subjects from fabrics passed down through her family. These squares of fabric aren’t ordinary family heirlooms, however. The fabrics belong to the Wallach collection, a name renowned for the family’s part in preserving European Jewish folk art and textiles throughout the early 1900’s. Despite much of it confiscated by Nazis, The Jewish Museum of Munich exhibited many artifacts collected by Julius and Moritz Wallach, using items on loan from descendants, such as Rosenberg’s family. As part of her research and process, Rosenberg traveled to Munich and other parts of Germany to unearth the paths of the Wallach brothers. She interviewed and learned from art historians, craftspeople, and scholars.
     Fascinated by the Wallach brothers’ textile production, Rosenberg sought out a shop still producing Wallach fabrics located in the Bavarian Forest. With houses, woodland creatures, and floral motifs in her work, Rosenberg uses the Wallach prints as inspiration. Rosenberg’s ceramic work explores and preserves the Wallach tradition. One piece is made of many ceramic tiles crowding a wounded stag bleeding rosettes from its abdomen, a direct homage to a woodblock print. Another is a series of miniature houses, black slip carved away to reveal intricate design work, similar in method to the decoration found in stucco homes in Bavaria. In Rosenberg’s blog, she writes, “A large part of my desire to travel around Germany and learn my family's artistic history is to get a glimpse into my grandmother's childhood before moving to the United States. The Holocaust scattered my family, and finding bits and pieces of history in their German homeland has been incredibly gratifying.”

       Rosenberg was awarded an undergraduate research grant in the summer of 2017. She presented her research at the National Conferences of Undergraduate Research at the University of Central Oklahoma in April 2018. She is a BFA candidate studying ceramics, expected to graduate in Fall 2018. A solo exhibition of Rosenberg’s work will also take place in Fall 2018. To read more about Rosenberg’s travels abroad, check out her blog at