Ursula Sternberg: Daydream
Ursula Sternberg: Daydream is a glimpse into the career of Philadelphia area artist, the late Ursula Sternberg. Sternberg’s life and career spanned many mediums and multiple continents taking her from Nazi occupied Germany to Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. From the 1970s to her death in 2000, Sternberg was actively involved in the Philadelphia art scene, fostering maker spaces that brought together the local community of artists for an opportunity to socialize, inspire, and be inspired. The exhibition runs Saturday, December 10, 2022 through Saturday January 21, 2023 in the InLiquid Gallery in the Crane Arts Building in South Kensington.
One of InLiquid’s first members, Sternberg was not only a prolific artist but also an active proponent of encouraging a vibrant community of artists and makers in Philadelphia. For decades, in a fabric-draped, bohemian living room in Chestnut Hill, a small group of painters, art historians, fashion designers, printmakers, musicians, and writers would gather for weekly afternoons of artmaking and fellowship. They were brought together by artist Sternberg who, in these salons, fostered a culture of presence and creativity. InLiquid invites the public to spend time with fleeting scenes immortalized in ink and pigment across any surface she could get her hands on in Ursula Sternberg: Daydream.
Art making was foundational to how Sternberg connected with the world around her— especially in times of isolation. At the age of eleven, she was forced to flee Nazi Germany with her family. They spent WWII in hiding, first in Belgium and later in Holland. During this extended period of seclusion, Sternberg’s lifelong habit of documenting the people and places around her flourished. This can be witnessed in countless drawings created on her travels through Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, or on tour across Nova Scotia with the Halifax symphony orchestra. In these scenes, she encapsulated the characters around her lost in their own personal musings.
In Europe after the war, during “the years of woozy delirium” as she called them, Sternberg had a successful career as a graphics and textile designer, translating her observations of daily life into whimsical patterns. Some of her textiles are held in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Later she lent her talents to costume and set design for theater and dance companies, including RepStudio Atlanta, and Zero Moving Dance Company in Philadelphia. The performers on stage bringing the textile work to life. When Sternberg moved with her husband and children to the Elkins Park neighborhood of Philadelphia, she continued her artistic iteration as she expanded into new mediums. She began rescuing discarded objects including old TV sets, plastic toys, and a rocking horse; transforming these everyday objects into works of art.
Throughout her prolific career, Sternberg found opportunities to observe moments of connection, beauty, and wonder in the brightest and darkest of times. Her works have been held in collections worldwide, including those of the New York Public Library, Woodmere Art Museum, Carole Schwartz Gallery in Chestnut Hill, the National Arts Club, the Kislak Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and the private collections of the late Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, and the late former Prime Minister of England The Rt. Hon. Edward Heath. This exhibition presents a scope of work that spans Sternberg’s entire career. From textile design in London in the 1950s, to psychedelic experimentations of the 1960s, to her iterative engagements with figure drawings in Chestnut Hill from the 1970s until her death in 2000.