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Wed, 20 Apr 2011 12:02:38 EDT by admin, 144202 views
Mingei International Museum
Arts paper by Corbett, Joyce Berczik (all papers)
Eva Zeisel: A Tourist in Life
On December 30, 2011, ceramics designer Eva Zeisel passed away at the august age of 105. Her amazing career spanned most of the 20th century and continued into the 21st. Her status as a designer and her artistic influence is unquestionable. Her personal story as a citizen of the world through the exigencies of history is equally compelling.
Eva Polanyi Stricker was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1906 into an affluent, intellectual family. An unconventional spirit from early on, she learned the craft of pottery making by joining the local potters’ guild. Her talent and her sense of adventure took her to Berlin in the early 1930’s. There she designed Bauhaus-influenced designs for commercial production. In 1932 she made an adventuresome visit to Russia. Surprisingly finding employment there, she eventually became official Director of the China and Glass Industry in Moscow. She was falsely arrested in 1936 in a Stalinist purge, was imprisoned for 16 months, then was suddenly released. She returned to Vienna, but was forced to flee in advance of the Nazi occupation. She left for England, married Hans Zeisel, and emigrated to the United States.
Arriving in New York in 1938, Eva began life anew. She successfully found freelance work designing china, had a groundbreaking exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and was the director of the industrial design curriculum at Pratt Institute. Her elegant, always contemporary designs made her a design icon and her reputation only increased with time. Eva Zeisel always looked to the future, and never mourned the past. She survived the ordeals of fate, observing life dispassionately with grace, charm and humor, as a perpetual tourist in life.
Brief Professional Bio:
Joyce Berczik Corbett (MFA University of Washington, Seattle; Fine Art and Art History). is a California based museum consultant, curator and independent scholar, with research specializing in Central and Eastern European folk art, costume and textiles. She was curator for 2010-11 exhibition “Between East and West: Folk Art Treasures of Romania”“, “Hungarian Folk Magic: the Art of Joseph Domjan”, 2008, Mingei International Museum, San Diego, CA and “Eva Zeisel: Extraordinary Designer at 100”, Mingei International Museum, San Diego, 2006-07, and Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 2007. She is a member of the International Advisory Board, Mingei International Museum, San Diego, CA, and Founder of the Ethnic Textile Council, San Diego. She chairs the Mid-Century Modern Section, Far West Popular Culture/American Culture Association, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Fulbright Scholar, Hungary, Slovak Republic IREX Research Scholar, Romania, Hungary.