Skip to Content

Alumni Update: Joan Rosenberg-Dent (BFA ‘78)

Sculptor, studio artist, and Stamps alum Joan Rosenberg-Dent (BFA '78) has been spending a lot of time thinking about the concept of "edge" in recent years. After fabricating several pieces, Joan discovered that the cumulation of multiple edges resembled pages in a book. Soon, the idea of a porcelain book was born.

"Historically, our ancestors wrote on stone tablets," Joan said. "I wanted this rich, historical reference to be part of my contemporary art, as it is a part of me. Because my work has often been described as poetic and lyrical by art critics, I took it one step further and decided to actually have the book contain poetry."

After contacting a host of Santa Barbara-based poets, Joan was inundated with poems to include in her porcelain book. Joan collaborated with a calligrapher who wrote the poems on her hand-crafted, translucent, unglazed porcelain pages. The pages sit within a thicker and glazed mirror black.


"There is a tension created by using the whitest white and the richest black, the matte pages and the shinny cover, the thin and the thick," Joan said. "I find it to be really exciting, visually."

One year, 24 collaborators, and many iterations later, Porcelain Poems was finalized. Accompanied by an identical paper book meant to be read and handled by viewers, Porcelain Poems explores both the physical and the philosophical edges of bookmaking and the human instinct to connect through story. The work was recently acquired by the University of California, Santa Barbara, where it has a home in their new library's permanent collection.