Barbara Berk’s journey has been circuitous: a childhood love of fabric and sewing; a Master’s Degree in Russian History; 15 years in magazine publishing. Her introduction to antique jewelry led to studies in gemology and bench techniques – and the discovery that her true passion is working with the metal itself. She learned that metal can be worked like fiber, that sheet and wire can be woven. Most exciting for Berk was the realization that sculpture – both smaller and larger scale – can be fashioned from the metal “fabric” she creates.
Barbara Berk’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Museum of the GIA. Her wearable sculptures are exhibited in museums and shows across the US including LOOT! 2011: Mad About Jewelry (Museum of Arts & Design, New York, NY); New West Coast Design: Jewelry + Metalwork (Velvet daVinci Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2008); The Art of Gold, a traveling exhibit of contemporary American studio goldsmithing (2003 – 2006).
Her work has been featured in many publications, including Textile Techniques in Metal for Jewelers, Textile Artists and Sculptors by Arline Fisch, in addition to many magazines including Metalsmith and Ornament. Berk is the author of “Textile Techniques in Metal: A Designer’s Perspective on Sheet and Wire” Parts I and II, presented at the Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing (2004 and 2006, respectively) and published in the Symposiums’ Proceedings.
I start by weaving metal sheet and wire by hand, off loom, one piece at a time. I then coax the flat “fabric” into a 3-dimensional form. Smaller metal ribbons, ruffles, spirals and loops become wearable sculptures for the body. Larger weavings become sculptures for the home. Mine is a contemporary interpretation of classical forms and ancient techniques, creating sophisticated art works for the connoisseur … elegant … understated … distinctive.