I consider myself a goldsmith using traditional techniques to create wearable pieces of personal ornament. I am interested in giving thought form and in finding the adequate way to materialize an idea. Finding the right balance between mysticism and revelation in the pursuit of a beautiful object presents a challenge.
Barbara Seidenath has produced a richly varied body of work over the past thirty years. Her training as both a goldsmith and an enamelist, her interest in formal and technical experimentation, and her commitment to exceptionally high standards of craftsmanship have made her one of the leading figures in contemporary studio jewelry. Having taught at the Rhode Island School of Design since 1990, she is also a prominent educator and has influenced a generation of young artists entering the metals, jewelry, and enamels fields.
Born in 1960 in a small town outside of Munich, Barbara Seidenath spent a good deal of time as a child exploring nature in the wooded setting surrounding her home. She was exposed to art and fine craftsmanship early in life through a neighbor and family friend Hermann Jünger, the influential German goldsmith. Jünger would later become her teacher and mentor. After studying at the State School for Jewelry and Glass in Neugablonz (1977 – 1980), she worked for the jeweler Ulrike Bahrs, whose interest in color and inventive form had a lasting influence on Seidenath’s work. In 1981 she enrolled as an exchange student at the State University of New York at New Paltz where she worked with Robert Ebendorf and Kurt Matzdorf. Returning to Germany in 1983, she continued her exploration of jewelry at the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts in Munich (1984 – 1989) where she studied with Herman Jünger and received her diploma in 1990. Seidenath regards Jünger as a role model and mentor who has had a great influence not only on her practice but also on her teaching.
She subsequently returned to the United States and since 1990 she has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. She is a dedicated teacher and generously shares her knowledge with her students. With a great sense of the field’s history and wide-ranging technical skills, she has been inspirational to countless numbers of artists.
Inspired in large part by landscape and natural phenomena, Seidenath’s body of work is both boldly experimental and poetically evocative. Her early work, from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s was both rooted in naturalistic forms and boldly minimalist. The following decade saw her delve into a more detailed analysis of natural phenomenon from climate condition to more mundane subjects such as pebbles and rocks. Her keen observation combined with her on-going minimalist approach resulted in delicately intricate works using a very limited color palette that favored whites and grays. This approach would change in the following decade and continue into the present. A neo-Baroque aesthetic permeates this more recent work in both the color palette and surface decoration. The works have become multi-layered and visually opulent. Throughout, Seidenath’s impeccable technical skills have served her pieces well and allowed her to explore a wide range of subjects from landscape to natural phenomena.
Seidenath’s work is highly recognized and collected by major museums, including the Design Museum, Munich; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.