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Barbara M. Berk


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I explore strength and beauty, transparency and movement through the interplay of industrial metal with traditional fiber techniques.  Using Renaissance lace stitches, I play with line, plane and pattern. Using modern industrial wire, I play with texture, volume and scale.


Working directly with the metal, I make bobbin lace with stainless steel and phosphor bronze wire by hand, working flat and straight.  I then curve, loop, twist, interweave and sew my flat “fabric” into a 3-dimensional form.  

Process/Material.  Solids/Voids. Reflections/Shadows.  Domestic/Industrial.  Soft/Hard.  Looking At/Looking Through.  Animated by these dualities and seeming contradictions, my handmade lace becomes intriguing, mesmerizing free-standing, wall-mounted and hanging sculpture.



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. 

My sculpture has been exhibited in “2020 Members Biennial Exhibition”, juried by Emily Zaiden, Director of the Craft in America Center, at the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA (2020); “Form and Function:  Fiber Arts for the 21st Century”, juried by Karen Gutfreund, at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, San Jose, CA (2019-2020); “Bauhaus Centennial – Taking Shape:  Bauhaus Fiber Art Exhibition”, juried by Dr. Katharina Powers, Art Ventures Gallery, Menlo Park, CA (2019); “Beyond the Warp and Weft:  The Enduring Legacy of the Bauhaus”, curated by Hanna Regev, Ruth’s Table Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2019); “Reflections and Shadows”,  juried by Maria Medua, Director of SFMOMA Artists Gallery, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA (2017);  “International Fiber Arts VII”,  juried by Lia Cook, John Hopper, Kyoko Kumai, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, 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 M. Fisch (1996, 2001), in addition to many magazines including Ornament and Metalsmith