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More Information | A Finding Aid to the Robert Sperry papers, 1951-2002

Robert Sperry papers, 1951-2002

More Information

A Finding Aid to the Robert Sperry Papers,
, in the Archives of American Art
Erin Corley
Scope and Content Note
The papers of ceramicist Robert Sperry measure 12.6 linear feet and date from 1951-2002. The collection documents Sperry's career as an artist and teacher through biographical information, correspondence, exhibition files, gallery files, material on projects and workshops, writings, a scrapbook, financial files, printed material, photographs, video recordings, films, and artwork.
Biographical files contain items outlining Sperry's career including resumes, teaching evaluations, awards, and interviews. Correspondence includes general correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, schools, galleries, art organizations, and publications as well as named files for those with whom Sperry exchanged a significant amount of correspondence over a long period of time. The Exhibition Files contain materials on group and solo exhibitions Robert Sperry participated in, while Gallery Files hold material, such as correspondence and contracts, related to the galleries which exhibited Sperry's work primarily after 1979. The Project and Workshop Files in Series 5 contain material related to public commissions he completed and workshops he gave during the 1980s and 1990s.
Writings encompass writings by Sperry and others. Sperry's writings vary greatly and include drafts of articles, a family history, poetry, notes and a screenplay, while writings by others are primarily essays on art. Within this series Sperry's event calendars are also found. Sperry compiled a scrapbook which spans 1955 to 1964 and includes correspondence and printed material about exhibitions and newspaper clippings which feature his artwork. He and his wife, Patti Warashina, also compiled Financial Records primarily of their business and living expenses from 1976 to 1984 and earnings as artists and professors at the University of Washington.
The largest series in this collection, Printed Material, provides information largely on Sperry's career through press clippings, exhibition announcements, catalogs, and publications, and also includes other materials on ceramics in general. The Photographs series contains both photos and negatives from Sperry's trip to Japan to film "Village Potters of Onda" as well as photographs of his artwork and his family. Also found in this collection are a few sketches and drawings by Sperry and one drawing by Patti Warashina. Moving image material includes video recordings and motion picture film with a wide range of content, including documentaries about Sperry, studio footage, and experimental and narrative films created by Sperry in a range of styles and genres, including animation such as the animated film "Henry," hand colored film, live action footage, abstract design, and narrative short films by Sperry.
The Robert Sperry papers were donated by Sperry's wife Patti Warashina in 2003 and 2004.
Related Material
Also found in the Archives of American Art are the Patti Warashina papers, circa 1900-1991. An online finding aid is available.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Erin E. Corley in 2004 as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Art in America. Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.