Words of wisdom
World-renowned visual artist Ruth Weisberg, BFA ’63/MA ’65, spent Fall 2016 in a campus residency at the Penny Stamps School of Art & Design. In this Studio Spotlight, she talks about her time at U-M in the 1960s and about breaking the glass ceiling in her field. She also gives sage advice to current students — all while creating a new lithograph.
“Be true to your own beliefs and aesthetics,” says Weisberg, who arrived on campus in fall 1959. “Don’t be cowed by the art world. Fashions come and go — that’s no way to calibrate a career.”
During Weisberg’s residency, students were able to interact with an artist whose creative activity and scholarship encompasses not only studio production in printmaking, painting, and drawing, but central and influential articles, essays, and book chapters that have played a vital role in advancing print theory. Her 1986 essay “Syntax of the Print” published in the Tamarind Papers is frequently assigned to students in printmaking programs and remains relevant almost 30 years after it was first published.
Weisberg’s artwork is notable for her commitment to both extending the history of art, and its continued relevance to the human experience today. Her themes are often ambitious ones, including cultural identity, love, mortality, history, and community. Her work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally. In total, she has presented over 80 one-person exhibitions at museums and galleries internationally.
Additionally, Weisberg’s work is in the collections of major museums, including the Getty Center; Norton Simon Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Jewish Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Harvard University; Biblioteca Nazionale d’Italia (Rome); and Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.
Weisberg is a professor of fine arts and former dean at the University of Southern California Roski School, and is currently the director of the USC Initiative for Israeli Arts and Humanities. Among her many honors is the 2015 Southern Graphics Council International Printmaker Emeritus Award, which celebrated her impressive influence on printmaking both as an artist and educator.
(Top image: Waterbourne, 1973, Color Lithograph, 30 1/4 x 42 1/4 inches.)