Pictured: Beverly Mayeri, Conversations, 2012. 30 x 24 x 8 inches.
Hi, my name is Keila Medina, and I am this summer’s Getty Marrow intern at AMOCA! I currently attend Otis College of Art and Design, majoring in product design and minoring in contemporary clay.
This August, the exhibition MIND+MATTER: Five Bay Area Artists has opened at AMOCA, featuring artists who have worked in the field for more than 30 years: Robert Brady, Beverly Mayeri, Arthur Gonzalez, Nancy Selvin, and Richard Shaw. For this blog post, I will be focusing on one of these artists: Beverly Mayeri.
Raised in New Jersey, Beverly Mayeri made the radical decision to move to California to study at UC Berkeley in 1962. In the 1960’s San Francisco was undergoing a cultural shift with the civil rights and counter culture (hippie) movements. After World War II, the Baby Boomers developed a different set of ideals from prior generations. They promoted racial equality, peace, love, and freedom. The Bay Area attracted people from all over the country and became the center for change. Coming from a small town in New Jersey, this all came as a culture shock to Mayeri. It took her a while to become adjusted to a new way of life and ideas.
Although she majored in zoology, Mayeri took art classes at the same time. From a young age, her parents influenced her and her siblings’ interest in the arts. She was first introduced to clay during her senior year in college when she came across the ASUC (Associated Students of the University of California) studio. Clay immediately captured her: “it gave me a great sense of freedom and delight to do something that was fun and kind of meaningless.”
A few years after graduating, Mayeri decided to pursue art by building a studio in her garage. She began her career selling functional work at craft fairs. After seeing a Karen Breschi sculpture, Mayeri’s work completely changed direction. She realized that her work could have meaning, and she began developing a figurative series based on motherhood. She applied and was accepted to San Francisco State University to study ceramics. After graduating, she continued to explore figurative work with more spiritual and personal meaning.
Now, “Most of [her] work explores the personal life, our yearnings, strengths, and fears, our connections to each other and to the environment. [Mayeri] likes to use the surface of the clay as a canvas where figures and events are painted, carved, or drawn into the clay, often using patterns from nature as a backdrop.” The surface of her pieces are muted with soft washes of color influenced by her parents sharing their love of watercolor paintings.
Her face sculptures are some of her more notable works. “Many of the faces are reflective and quiet as they look at life and ask the viewer to reflect as well about how we live.” Some of them have tattoos and patterns, creating a balance between the stillness of the figure and the intricate designs.
“They beg the question, what are we doing and where should we go from here?”
If you would like to read more about the artist check out:
To read more about San Francisco in the 60s:
Keila Medina is completing her studies at Otis College of Art and Design and a 2021 Getty Marrow Undergraduate Intern at AMOCA. During her internship, Medina writes periodically for AMOCMA.org, and posts on Instagram and Facebook on Thursdays. Read her blog posts: