Robert Silverman balances material, process, and idea in a strong, unified whole. In his materials, he brings together pieces with international origins: large-format tiles that originate in China and glazes from England and the Netherlands. Silverman’s technically demanding process combines complex glazing and multi-firing methods that unite the materials in a way that supports and conveys his underlying concepts. These ideas are presented through words, letterforms, coded symbols, color, and texture.


We know not through our intellect but through our experience. ― Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Unlike other philosophers, Merleau-Ponty emphasized the body as well as the mind as a gateway to understanding the world. His belief that the body and that which it perceived could not be separated seems perfectly suited to the perceptual and haptic sensibilities of fired clay.
I was initially trained as a social geographer and later as an artist. Acknowledging this early training and reflecting the mind-body understanding, my current work connects the way in which we both visualize information and viscerally experience this process of perception.


In October 2000, artist Eddie Rama became the Mayor of Tirana, Albania. At that time the capital city was a downtrodden remnant of the Soviet Union. The city budget was squandered, corruption was rampant and crime was the norm. But Rama had an idea to raise the spirits of his town — he painted many of the grey buildings loud colors and bold designs.
When the colored buildings began to multiply, a mood of change started to transform the spirit of the people. There was less litter in the streets, people started to pay taxes. As Rama said “Beauty was giving people a feeling of being protected. This was not a misplaced feeling — crime did fall.”
Inspired by Rama’s vision, I use everyday commercial tile and glaze materials to create surfaces and imagery that blur the traditional lines drawn between art, design and architecture. In doing this I hope to elevate everyday materials and give them meaning beyond their manufactured intent.


Bobby Silverman’s brilliantly-glazed, large-scale porcelain tiles begin as raw clay in China, where ceramic tradition dates back hundreds of years. Working with expert craftsman, Silverman designed a paper-thin flat tile up to 43 x 33”, which is in itself a technical achievement. The blank tile is fabricated in Jingdezhen, China, fired to a high temperature, crated, and shipped to his studio in the United States. Silverman then masterfully glazes the porcelain and fires it numerous times in his kiln to create a visual language of pure color, vivid striping, or abstract text using Morse code or braille. Because Silverman makes his masterful understanding of the chemistry of ceramics look effortless, the viewer sees a pristine, vibrant work of art that is reminiscent of color field painting, but resonates with a color and light that only glaze can achieve.