Major Valley ceramics collection to be exhibited at ASU Art Museum

TEMPE, Ariz. – Selections from the important ceramics collection of Valley residents David and Sara Lieberman will go on exhibit at the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center this spring, providing a unique opportunity to view a collection that recently was featured in American Craft magazine.

Shared Passion: Sara and David Lieberman Collection of Contemporary Ceramics and Craft will open Feb. 8 and run through May 18. A weekend of activities, including a free public reception from 7-9 p.m., Feb. 8, will launch the exhibition. Also scheduled are two free lectures by nationally renowned ceramists. Ken Price will speak at 7 p.m., Feb. 7, and Josh DeWeese will speak at 2 p.m., Feb. 9. Both lectures will take place in Neeb Hall at the intersection of Forest and Tyler Malls on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The Liebermans’ collection of more than 200 contemporary ceramics pieces, which was last year promised to the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center, is a Who’s Who of contemporary ceramics, including works by Peter Voulkos, Michael Lucero, Ruth Duckworth and Beatrice Wood. Approximately 40 pieces from the collection will be on show as part of this exhibition.

Shared Passion will continue in the museum’s Nelson Fine Arts Center location, with selections from the Liebermans’ other great collections of contemporary fiber works, baskets, metal, glass, wood and jewelry. Senior curator Heather Lineberry said that the complete exhibition in both buildings would present about 100 works in total. The exhibition, she said, is about passion – the Liebermans’ passion for art and craft.

“In a relatively short amount of time, the Liebermans have assembled a magnificent contemporary craft collection that touches upon most of the major artists and movements of today,” Lineberry said. 

The museum’s new curator of ceramics, Peter Held, said that when he was first introduced to Sara and David Lieberman, it didn’t take him long to detect the gleam in their eyes and the heightened pitch in their voices when talking about ceramics.

“Passionate, knowledgeable and articulate about their growing ceramic collection, the Liebermans have – over the course of 20-plus years – amassed a significant group of ceramic art focused on post-World War II clay artists,” Held said.

The Liebermans’ ceramics collection had been sought by a number of museums, but they chose to donate it to the ASU Art Museum. They also made an immediate monetary donation toward operating costs at the new center.

J. Robert Wills, Dean of the Herberger College of Fine Arts, recognized the long-term importance of the gift.

“This is a two-part gift that not only helps us build momentum at the beginning of the center, but also helps guarantee its long-term excellence. We owe them special thanks,” Wills said.

Lineberry described the Liebermans’ ceramics collection as “a who’s who of contemporary ceramics on an international scale.” She said it both complimented and expanded the museum’s collection, including the significant addition of numerous works by contemporary Native America artists. The ASU Art Museum collection specializes in contemporary and 20th century British and American ceramics, and is one of the best in the country.

The Liebermans have long been major supporters of the ASU Art Museum and more recently the new Ceramics Research Center. Sara Lieberman is chair of the Ceramics Research Center’s community support group, Ceramic Leaders of ASU (CL_).

Both Sara and David are recognized benefactors of multiple valley art and community organizations. Sara has a 10-year history of volunteering and supporting the ASU Art Museum, having started as a community docent and now holding the position of chair of CL_’s board. David was recently recognized for his nearly 10 years as a volunteer in inner city elementary schools, during which he has encouraged and inspired many children. He also established a number of trusts to assist at-risk children in gaining an education.

The ASU Art Museum is a division of The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University. It is located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street, Tempe. The Ceramics Research Center is located on the northeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street. For more information, please call (480) 965-2787 or visit the museum online at

When You Go:

Location: ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center and Nelson Fine Arts Center locations, corner Mill Avenue and 10th Street, Tempe.

Date & Time: Shared Passion will run Feb. 8 – May 18.
A free opening reception in conjunction with the CoBrA exhibition is scheduled for 7-9 p.m., Feb. 8.
A lecture by ceramist Ken Price will take place at 7 p.m., Feb. 7, in Neeb Hall.
A lecture by ceramist Josh DeWeese, also in Neeb Hall, is scheduled for 2 p.m., Feb. 9.

Parking: Free parking is available in ASU Art Museum-marked spaces at the south end of Tempe Center, located at the NE corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street. Visitors using museum spaces must sign in at the front desk in the lobby of the Nelson Fine Arts Center. Free parking is also available on weekends and after 7 p.m. weeknights in Parking Structure #3 on Myrtle Avenue, Tempe.


Cost: Free

Media Contact:
Jennifer Pringle