Are We There Yet?

at Ferrin Contemporary




b. 1981, Haifa, Israel
lives and works in New York, NY

Rae Stern’s practice employs digital tools in the manipulation of multiple media including ceramics, photography, paper, and textiles. After a decade in the high-tech industry, her work is concerned with the social and cultural effects of technology. Between 2009 and 2018, Stern collaborated with Aya Margulis under the name Doda Design and created several bodies of work. Recent residencies include the Penland School of Crafts, Anderson Ranch, and Belger Crane Yard Studios. Stern has received grants from Asylum Arts, the Schusterman Foundation, and Belger Arts.

Stern’s work has been exhibited internationally at The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Eretz Israel Museum (Tel Aviv, Israel), Belger Arts (Kansas City, MO), Harvard University (Boston, MA), and Medalta Museum, (Alberta, Canada). Her work is included in the collection of Eretz Israel Museum, as well as numerous private collections in Israel and the USA. Stern completed her undergraduate degree in psychology and communications at Tel Aviv University followed by a master’s degree in design from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.


I strive to serve as a witness, documenting elusive human phenomenon. By emulating the anonymous makers throughout history, I produce objects that can serve as evidence of global and personal experiences of this era. These artifacts seek to reveal the idiosyncrasies in contemporary human interaction. They embrace the potential of connection and expose its limits. My process combines traditional and industrial techniques that serve the concept. Often, I source imagery and manipulate it to tie the concept with the form. The imagery functions as bait, luring the viewer with a familiarity that is later exposed as merely an illusion.


Spending time at American art residencies has impacted my professional growth in unpredictable ways. Coming from a non-ceramic background, residencies allowed me to immerse myself in open-end exploration and experimentation with the medium. As an immigrant, spending time at these unique transient ecosystems offered an opportunity to build a professional network despite having graduated from a foreign school. One of the best experiences was the recent year-long residence at Belger Arts, KC, MO, during which I created the exhibition “Rae Stern: In Fugue”. The close mentorship from Evelyn Craft-Belger and the Belger Arts team was an empowering vote of confidence in my conceptual body of work as well as an unparalleled opportunity to step up the scope and technical complexity of my work.


Rae Stern and I met through Ceramic Top 40, the 2013 survey of contemporary ceramics organized to address the absence of documented, comprehensive, media specific surveys during that time. With support from Belger Arts, the exhibition was presented at their newly opened, expansive space in Kansas City, MO and again, in 2014 at the newly opened gallery of Office of the Arts, Harvard Ceramics.

Stern’s work in CT40 show featured Web Souvenirs, a collaboration with Aya Margulis that used printed transfers on plates of images sourced from the internet. Attending the opening began a relationship with Belger Arts that led to the long term artist residency and enabled her to tackle the process of using photography, porcelain and lithopanes. The fall exhibition, In Fugue presented the resulting 30 vignettes as a complete installation with images sourced from the community. Selected individual works are featured in Nature/Nurture at Ferrin Contemporary and an online exclusive on ARTSY.

Nature/Nurture, like Ceramic Top 40, is a survey exhibition that explores and documents the work of a group of artists at a specific moment in time. The nurturing role of survey exhibitions becomes more evident as careers evolve.

Due to the extended run of Nature/Nurture, we have been given the opportunity to reflect on paths taken, connections made and shared experiences in our now weekly series of FC News & Stories, each issue focusing on an individual artist in the exhibition. The ON NURTURE statements by each artist acknowledges family, artist mentors, education, and, particularly in Rae Stern’s case, recognition of the importance of foundation support and artist residencies in the development of new works by individual artists.

Read more on The CERAMIC TOP 40 exhibition & The NATURE/NURTURE series.


Part of a recent body of work by Stern, the porcelain objects light up from within upon touch and expose hidden lithophanes. Stern collected the pre-WWII images from both her personal archive and through community outreach to people who suffered persecution during the war. The images depicted in the lithophanes often portray daily scenes from life in communities across Europe that were later annihilated.

By creating an immersive experience and inviting the viewers to touch the ceramic objects, the work brings to life narratives and memories assigned to porcelain heirlooms and explores the potential and limitations of porcelain as a repository for fading memories.

ON “Steve Sherry: Not old friends but good friends”

Sometime in the mid 1930’s, an American couple, Essie and David Felberbaum were touring Vienna and walked into the store “Bruder Felberbaum” to inquire whether, by chance, they were related to the owners. Despite sharing the uncommon surname, they were unrelated and left after a friendly chat with the owner’s son, Otto Serebrenik (later Sherry). On Kristallnacht, 11.9.1938, the store was destroyed like many other Jewish-owned shops. Otto, now married with a baby, was desperate to get his family out of Austria and reached out to the American couple (who had left a card). Despite the short and random acquaintance, Essie and David agreed to sponsor the request for immigration and in January ’39, Otto, Lili and their son Steve fled Austria on board the Aquitania from Cherbourg, France, to NYC. Otto’s mother stayed in Austria and later perished on the way to a concentration camp.

The touch sensitive photographic lithophanes portrays the pre-war images of Steve’s parents, Otto and Lili Serebrenik. The three managed to escape Nazi Austria with the help of near strangers who sponsored their immigration to the United States. During one of our conversations, Steve described the American couple as “not old friends, but good friends”. I often think of this statement and of how profoundly impactful we can be on each other’s lives, even as strangers.



ABOUT THE EXHIBITION As an immersive experience, the installation Outside Time presents dozens of porcelain objects that upon touch light up from within, exposing hidden lithophanes. Combining innovative technology with...


ABOUT THE EXHIBITION Recently on view at the Belger Crane Yard Gallery, the exhibition Rae Stern: In Fugue debuted new works in porcelain and paper and focuses on the elusive...


SURVEY EXHIBITION 2013 - 2015 | 3-City US TOUR ABOUT THE EXHIBITION CERAMIC TOP 40 Belger Crane Yard Studios, Kansas City, MO presented by Ferrin Contemporary and Red Star Studios...


Kristallnacht Commemoration: Rae Stern

Kristallnacht Commemoration: Rae Stern Midwest Center for Holocaust Education November 7, 2019 "This year’s community-wide Kristallnacht commemoration will feature a program presented by Israeli-American artist Rae Stern. She will talk...

“Rae Stern: In Fugue” | Limited Edition Catalog

Published by Breakroom Studio, 2022

Rae Stern: In Fugue Exhibition catalogue preview from Rae Stern Studio on Vimeo.

“Rae Stern: In Fugue” | Limited Edition Catalog

This exhibition catalog is now available as a limited edition. The publication includes essays by Glenn Adamson and Margaret Carney,
alongside photography by T. Maxwell Wagner.

Also included are the stories behind the images that inspired the work, as well as an essay by the artist about the process of creating the exhibition.

The publication was designed by Dan Saal in collaboration with the artist. The design brings to life the tactile experience of the exhibition in a two-dimensional format. The project received generous support from Evelyn and Dick Belger.

To view or purchase the “Rae Stern: In Fugue” Catalog, please visit Rae Stern’s website.

“Rae Stern: In Fugue” | Exhibition Catalog

Published by Belger Arts, 2020

“Rae Stern: In Fugue” | Belger Arts Exhibition Catalog

This catalog is 16 pages long and includes insights into the In Fugue series and Stern’s exhibition at Belger Arts.

Part of a recent body of work by Stern, the porcelain objects light up from within upon touch and expose hidden lithophanes.

By creating an immersive experience and inviting the viewers to touch the ceramic objects, the work brings to life narratives and memories assigned to porcelain heirlooms and explores the potential and limitations of porcelain as a repository for fading memories.


Directed and Produced by Johanna Brooks.

Filmed on site at the Belger Art Center and Crane Yard Studios, Kansas City, MO. 2019-2020
Additional footage by Saj Issa, Cydney Ross and Katie Pitre. Professional Photography by T. Maxwell Wagner.


Shaping Memories: Expressions
in Clay
at Virginia MOCA

Interview with artist Rae Stern, exhibiting artist in Shaping Memories: Expressions in Clay at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (Virginia MOCA). Created by Jeremy Bates Film.