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Life & Work with Patricia Ferber

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Ferber.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born and grew up in Costa Rica. Television was not available and my sister and I entertained ourselves. Our mother was an artist and created costumes, made enchanting puppets, dolls, which filled us with magical fantasy play, art and culture. We moved to the United States in the 1960’s. At home, we spoke Dutch, German, Spanish, and now English.

I was in 11th grade High School when I walked into Pasadena City College’s Ceramics Department, and the ceramic spirits resonated in me! I met Professor Philip Cornelius and asked if I could take his class. He informed me that I would need a drawing class first, which I signed up for immediately, and so began my love and journey into the world of clay.

After graduating from High School, I worked with Professor Phil Cornelius at Pasadena City College for a number of years, and he set my technical foundation as a ceramicist, I was also his teaching assistant. Professor Cornelius always invited important ceramic artists to give workshops, such as Goro Suzuki, Paul Soldner, Michael Frimkees, and more. Peter Voulkos gave a workshop, and he totally inspired my creative perspective concerning clay. After receiving my Associate Arts degree from PCC, I transferred to UC Berkeley to study with professor Voulkos, where I received my BA, MA, MFA degrees.

Voulkos inspired me to become a sculptor, which I have been ever since. He also taught me how to paint. He furnished me with stacks of his posters, whose backsides I used to paint on. They were made of 100% rag paper. My early paintings are all on the backs of Voulkos posters. While at UC Berkeley, I worked as his teaching assistant and assisted him in his studio, throwing the blank forms for his work for a number of years. I would start the pieces, which he then artistically completed. I still throw on the potter’s wheel using many of the techniques Peter Voulkos taught me.

During my quarter breaks from UCB and summer months, I worked as stone mason with my friend George McDavitt. We, building large rock retaining walls for numerous rock musicians, i.e., Bob Dylan, Don Henley. After graduating from UC Berkeley, I continued building a number rock walls in the Bay Area. One was a collaborative piece made of rock and wood for 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman. I also created a 200-foot wall made of rock and metal for renowned San Francisco restaurateur Modesto Lanzone.

I relocated and moved back to Pasadena in the mid 1980’s, working as a studio artist and teaching. At this time, I was introduced to a faux rock landscape architecture firm, which utilized rock cast forms using actual rock formations, they were primarily used in the creating of massive water features. I was involved with the building of several of their projects learning the engineering aspect entailed. I eventually became their painter, painting the rock morphology needed for each specific site. I traveled with the firm to work on projects in France, Japan, and China. Overall, this was a wonderful learning experience. I still freelance with Site Development Studios, Inc. to this day. I assist them in the development of some of their colors, at times still painting the morphology of the rock at different sites.

Throughout the years, I have been an educator, freelance artist, and curator. Most recently, I curated for a second time a large-scale outdoor sculpture exhibition for The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden, titled The Nature of Sculpture II, The current exhibition consists of 94 sculptors and their artwork placed throughout several gardens. Due to Covid 19, this exhibit has been postponed until the world is safe once more.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Life has its ups and downs, and I have tried to do my best when obstacles presented themselves. I have had to put my life on hold several times to be a caregiver for my family. Although at times it was tough, I always had my art, be it clay, painting, curating, or teaching, to help me stay balanced, even though at times, the scales did tip a little bit.

My mother was my guiding force and heroine. Her influence was not solely as a mother extraordinaire. She never lost perspective regarding life’s circumstances. Her beautiful artistic endeavors, given the fact that she was a master doll maker, painter, and textile artist, who also worked at times with LACMA”s Costume Department, was tantamount in my becoming who I am as an artist. Her free-thinking spirit and creativity influenced me throughout my life and was the mainstay support which allowed me to become the artist that I am today.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Throughout my life, I have been fortunate in having opportunities present themselves, meet and establish deep friendships with incredible individuals and other artists. As an artist, I have been able to actively exhibit. As an educator, I have worked for Armory Center for the Art for twenty years. I have developed ceramic programs for the Parks programs in Pasadena, and most recently for The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

I am a primarily a sculptor working in varied media, an educator, a curator, and a freelance artist. Encompassed are clay pieces, paintings, and the building of large architectural environmental landscape works. These are formed out of rock, metal and are often megalithic in size. I love three dimensionality and scale. I consider myself to be a proficient ceramicist, hand trimming the foot of my pieces into square vs. round shapes. When creating a sculpture, I often simultaneously paint as well, in the developing of the piece. I have in worked in clay for most of my life, and in recent years I began working in wood. My artwork evolved through the exploration of working in multiple media.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
I was born and grew up in Costa Rica, on a coffee plantation a “finca” in the countryside. We had a cub wolf who became our pet “‘dog” named Beertje (little bear). He was ferocious with strangers but so very gentle with my sister and I. My sister Varvara and I taught him how to play hide and seek (Beertje cheated, as he always knew where we were hiding). We also taught him how to Bullfight, charging into our red capes.

Costa Rica has seven months of rainy season, with afternoon rain showers. I remember coming home from school and being able to run ahead of the oncoming curtain of rain and making to our front porch.


  • Functional Ceramics – $100.00 – $1,000.00 0
  • Ceramic sculptures – $500.00 – $5,000.0+ +
  • Paintings $100.00 – $5,000.00+
  • Workshops, Lectures – $250.00 – $500.00

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