Roberta Massuch: Artist-in-Residence

June 3, 2021 – Dec 30, 2021

Roberta Massuch, a Philadelphia-based artist best known for her sculptural and functional work in ceramics, spent several on-site residency days at the Wharton Esherick Museum during fall 2020 and winter 2021. Roberta Massuch: Artist-in-Residence features new site-specific works that reflect her sensitive and slow observation of Esherick’s idiosyncratic home and studio over the course of many months. As the Esherick Museum reopens for tour reservations, Roberta Massuch: Artist-in-Residence offers visitors a new perspective, with paper and ceramic works incorporated into the Museum’s immersive surroundings.

Roberta Massuch: Artist-in-Residence asks compelling questions about how we experience a space, paying attention to the changeability of what is seemingly static — objects, architecture, sculpture. Massuch centers the power of the ephemeral to transform what is rooted, asking how light might impact a room over the course of a day or even across a span of seasons or how a shifting shadow or reflective color may help us see something with new eyes. The objects Massuch created over the duration of the residency period engage with both interior and exterior elements of the campus. Equally subtle and transformational, these works not only shed new light on how we might experience Esherick but also serve as a reminder of the power of a call-and-response between artists that bridges past and present.

A stone wall with dappled light has a door in the lower right and a tall narrow, blue window in the center. In the window we can see a bright red abstract sculpture.

“Each room in the studio is so different depending on the season or the time of day; it has been a fulfilling challenge to create work that speaks to or highlights the impact of constantly shifting light over the existing objects and beautifully crafted furniture in the studio,” reflects Massuch. “Occasionally, I felt like an intruder in a carefully curated world of his objects and belongings, but that emotion would quickly pass to curiosity, appreciation, and the highest esteem for what Esherick built. I hope that the work I made as a response to his space speaks to the sensitivity and materiality of his studio and artwork.”

Roberta Massuch


Massuch centers the power of the ephemeral to transform what is rooted, asking how light might impact a room over the course of a day or even across a span of seasons or how a shifting shadow or reflective color may help us see something with new eyes. Throughout the exhibition, we will continue to capture these transitions and subtle shifts through the use of time-lapse photography. 

A red sculpture can be seen behind one of Esherick's wood sculptures. Both sit on the sill of a tall, narrow stone window and a red glow reflects around the sculptures. The darkness of the room can be seen around them.

Stepped Form, 2021. Porcelain, acrylic, encaustic wax, 19″ x  4″ x 5″

A blue door set in a stone wall is under a deck. Orange and yellow ceramic pieces fir the the cracks in the stone wall. A streak of light walls across the wall

Crack Fillers, 2021. Porcelain, encaustic, acrylic,  dimensions vary

In the Shop

Check out Roberta’s one-of-a-kind ceramic vessels inspired by elements of Esherick’s Studio!

ceramic vessel or white porcelain with a tall blue form on left, and yellow grid on right and a painted yellow grid on the base
tall and narrow ceramic vase with yellow grid
small vessel with yellow base and interior with red flange with three holes
small vase with painted orange lines, tall yellow "chimney" and ladder-like handle
small vase with painted yellow lines, tall yellow "chimney" and pale reddish pink ladder-like handle
tall white ceramic vessel with turquoise "awning" feature and tall three pane red window. Back side has faint yellow grid on surface

About the Artist

Roberta Massuch received her BFA in ceramics from Northern Illinois University (DeKalb) in 2005 and her MFA from Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) in 2013. In addition to posts as an instructor at The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA), Tyler School of Art (Philadelphia, PA), and the Community College of Philadelphia (PA), she has received awards including the Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant in 2009, the Independence Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship in 2015 and further recognition through publications such as Clay Times, Ceramics Monthly, Musing About Mud, and various exhibition catalogs through The Clay Studio. She is currently a 2021 Summer McKnight Artist Resident at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. Massuch’s work has been exhibited at universities, institutions, galleries, and museums across the United States including Northern Clay Center (Minneapolis, MN), Appalachian Center for Craft (Smithville, TN), Worcester Center for Craft (MA), The Clay Studio, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show (PA), Goggleworks Center for the Arts (Reading, PA), and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond (VA).

woman in white shirt and overalls sits on wooden spiral steps with beams of light shining on either side of her

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