My explorations in the field of enameling have not always been limited to a particular style, however abstract work has mostly been what I return to. The limitless possibilities there of working with pure design, balance, and color seem to please my sensibilities the most. It seems enamel is the perfect means for this as there are so many possibilities of technique inherent to the medium.
Born in Wichita, Kansas in 1939, Linda Gebert always knew she wanted to be an enamelist: “Growing up visiting the Wichita Center for the Arts and its collection of enamels, from childhood I knew I wanted to work in that medium.” After initial studies at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri in 1958, she enrolled in art classes at Wichita State University where she majored in art history and painting. After a delay for marriage and children, she resumed classes part-time and eventually earned a BA in art history in the 1980s. All the while, Gebert studied enameling and silversmithing at the Wichita Center for the Arts. Gebert has been an enamelist since 1965 and a jeweler since 1980. She taught numerous classes in both media at the Wichita Center for the Arts and Wichita State University throughout the 1980s and 1990s. She also taught numerous workshops regionally during this time.
In her earliest explorations in the enamels field, Gebert was inspired by the work shown in the Wichita Center for the Arts’s annual Decorative Arts and Ceramics Exhibition. Among the artists featured in this nationally prominent exhibition, later called the Wichita National Craft Show, were many of the leading figures in enameling such as Kenneth Bates, Karl Drerup, Doris Hall, and Jackson and Ellamarie Woolley. After 1986, when over 300 enamels from the collection of the San Diego-based collector James Parker were acquired by the Center, Wichita became one of the most important centers in the United States for contemporary enameling. During these years and later, when Gebert taught enameling and metals at the Center, Executive Director Glenice Matthews, a great champion of the field, invited numerous renowned enamelists to offer workshops. Among those invited by Matthews, and later by the Midwest Enamelist Guild, were Jean Tudor, Rebekah Laskin, Marilyn Druin, John Killmaster, Harold B. Helwig, Harlan Butt, Joanne Tanzer, and many others. According to Gebert, of these artists Rebekah Laskin had the greatest influence on her work. Having studied painting during the period of abstract expressionism, Gebert was drawn to the non-objective “little paintings” in Laskin’s jewelry. She admired their pure form and color. Additionally, Gebert’s interest in Asian art led to a series of wall-mounted pieces depicting different contemporary interpretations of Japanese art. A leader in the enamels field, Gebert served as President of the Midwest Enamelist Guild, founded by Matthews, during the years 1987 – ’97.
Throughout her career Linda Gebert has explored a wide variety of forms and formats from wall-mounted plaques and panels to enamel jewelry. However, vibrant color and a highly inventive approach to form characterize much of the work she’s produced over the past fifty years.