Roberta Lampert

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, in a family where art was highly valued, Roberta spent First Saturdays at the LA County Art Museum, where a children’s docent program provided exposure and insight to special art exhibits. The museum complex also housed the LA County Natural History Museum, which provided Lampert’s first exposure to elements of the natural world.

In high school Roberta developed a passion for the immediacy and tactile qualities of clay. Pursuing that passion, she attended the College of Ceramics at Alfred University, where she was mentored by Bob Turner, who nfluenced her understanding of form and surface, as well her thinking about creativity and Val Cushing, who insisted that the key to personal expression in ceramics required a full understanding of clay and glaze materials and chemistry. She completed graduate studies in ceramics at the University of Iowa.

After sharing a clay studio near Venice Beach, Roberta settled in Portland, Oregon. In addition to a large and welcoming craft community, Portland’s proximity to wilderness environments and outdoor recreation, which had become additional passions for Lampert—provided additional influences on her art. Eventually building a studio on the land where she and her husband have lived since the mid-1980’s, Roberta developed a production line of thrown and handbuilt porcelain, fired in electric kilns at mid-range temperatures.

She decorated the work with colorful representations of nature, still life, and human images. Closing her studio for 20 years while she raised two children, Robertaq worked in graphic design, on a wide variety of projects, then returned to clay in 2015. While developing a new body of work for her electric in-house capacity, she also entered the wood-firing community of potters in the Portland area. The process of wood firing—the effects of fire, ash, and wind on the work—worked in harmony with the textural surfaces and freer forms Lampert developed in her new work. She continued to be influenced and inspired by the shapes and textures of nature. Wood relates to the immediacy of process that has attracted Lampert in her first work with clay, and allowed her to reach for new techniques in construction and surface treatement. In 2020, Lampert built a salt/soda kiln, her first gas-fired kiln since 1984. This kiln offers some of the atmospheric qualities of wood, and while somewhat more predictable, is compatible with the forms and textures that she now pursues.

Currently dividing her time between the wooded acres outside of Portland and the Oregon North Coast, Lampert finds aquatic and shoreline motifs and discoveries finding their way to her work. Colors of the ocean, beach and coastal vegetation are affecting the making and firing of her work.

Lampert has shown mostly locally since returning to clay, but has been included in national and international juried and invitational exhibitions.

A founding member of Oregon Potters’ Association, Lampert served on the board, worked on the original bylaws, helped organize the first Ceramic Showcase, and chaired several committees for for that organization over the years. Lampert also served six years on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. She currently teaches at the Catlin Gable East Campus Community Outreach. program.

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