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View a video interview with Roberta: https://vimeo.com/34029200
CPAC: How did you get introduced to your craft? What made you choose it as a profession?
Roberta: My father was a tinsmith. He began his apprenticeship at age five. My grandfather hauled him up the steeple to bring lunch to him as he covered the steeples with copper and fabricated the giant crosses that soared above. The crosses were fabricated on the ground in the back yard and were hollow and big enough for all the kids to lie in with outstretched arms – which all the kids did! Growing up there were thousands of tinsmithing tools everywhere. My father had a habit of painting everything gold-even his tools. The church was his reference to beauty. So off I went to school in painted gold shoes and returned home to a house filled with gold painted furniture, objects, dolls, even the keys. Rosaries and crosses lined the hall walls. I chose metalsmithing because it is the life I nalways knew. I love the small scale and through my fabrications I can tell my stories.
CPAC: What are some things that have influenced you or your work?
Roberta: Much of my work is pulled from my personal narrative. That narrative has an emotional base stirred by people and personal experiences. My husband David and our daughter Lauren especially play a major role. As I study and observe nature these Influences blend to produce my visual vocabulary.
CPAC: How do you generate new ideas?
Roberta: New Ideas fly out of my head and there is never enough time for them all. I go to bed visualizing new ideas and wake up thinking of even more. Beauty can trigger incredible energy for ideas whether it is a beautiful new piece of music that is wonderfully emotional or a little, bug eaten leaf discovered on my morning hike in the Metropark. Often a hint of a problem to solve will trigger an endless stream of creativity. It is almost as if a switch was turned on. It doesn’t matter what the category is - a Jewelry piece, creating a vignette, presenting a workshop on cooperation for a large company, a dinner party, or even teaching a class. The energy of a challenge makes the ideas flow.
CPAC: Why have you chosen Cuyahoga County as a place to live and work?
Roberta: We moved here 35 years ago after graduate school and my husband accepted the ceramics and sculpture
professor position at Baldwin-Wallace College. At the same time I was offered a professorship position to teach metals at Louisiana State University. We made the choice to move to Cleveland. It Was a great central location and had an intriguing history. I’m a city girl that loves the country and Cleveland.
CPAC: What is your favorite place, event, or “hidden gem” in greater Cleveland?
Roberta: Definitely the Metroparks are my favorite place. Each day begins with a long hike on one of its trails. It’s amazing how diverse the terrain and vegetation and wildlife are. My husband and I hike together and as our legs carry us we are transported and the ideas just flow. We come across children from the inner city discovering the park with their classmates- we met the birdman who showed us how to feed the birds right out of our outstretched hands, water snakes, beavers, millions of beetles on a single milkweed pod, fungi, fantastic heron, ferns and mosses… As the seasons change we are attuned to nature. We find the peace that nurtures us.