As a young aspiring clay artist David Middlebrook without much doubt was the biggest influence on me and how I wanted to be viewed. His early ceramic sculptures blew me away. His mastery of creating then assembling seemingly unrelated objects together to create his ensembles is genius! Since returning to art from an extended hiatus (33 years) I once again sought to see what Mr. Middlebrook has been up to. I was both saddened and excited to see the direction he took shortly after receiving my MFA in 1980 and subsequently crushed by the market place. I was Saddened because he’s moved from clay as his primary medium. Evidently he felt clay was too limiting and lost patience with its innate flaws switching to stone and other traditional mediums for his sculptures, but excited because much of his work is conceptually the same. I took the following from his webpage bio:
“As a master of ceramics and all its applications, for years David had struggled with the instability of this material and found many of its characteristics to be limiting. In 1983 he traveled to Northern Italy and discovered stone and it changed his approach to art forever. Since that trip, he has maintained a professional relationship with a studio in Pietrasanta, Italy. The availability of virtually every stone in the world, a thousand years of experience and tradition in stone and their specialized technology to fabricate make this Italian resource an invaluable asset. In addition to the 2 trips he makes to Italy each year, David maintains his status as Associate Director of Fine Arts at SJSU, which affords him the use of the university foundry for his bronze work.”
As you can see by his new to me look, his skills are best suited to stone and has lost nothing. One can only hope to attain the level of creativity and execution David Middlebrook brings to his work. If you’re a young ceramist or sculptor you should spend some time on his web pages.