August 3rd - October 27th 2019
Artist Reception - August 16th 6-8pm
The Blair Museum of Lithophanes
5403 Elmer Dr, Toledo Ohio 43615
The Blair Museum of Lithophanes is honored to host children’s book illustrator and lithophane artist Stephanie Osser. Coming to clay and porcelain from a successful career as an illustrator, she enjoys working in 3D with her favorite subjects: children, nature, music and the performing arts.
Her finely carved and transferred images on hand-built and slip cast ceramic objects are informed by a previous career as a non-fiction illustrator, working for institutions such as the New York Times, the New England Aquarium, and many major publishing houses. Her ceramic skills have been augmented by experiences in international residencies, including stays at the Kecskemét International Ceramic Studio, Hungary, the Medalta Ceramic Arts Center, Canada, the International Ceramic Research Center: Guldagergaard, Denmark and the Watershed Ceramic Arts Center, Maine, USA. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Statue of Liberty National Park Ellis Island Museum and the International Museum of Dinnerware Design, among others. Currently she is producing a series of lithophanes - translucent porcelain images, architectural ceramic tiles, and developing translucent shadow puppets, related to the translucency of lithophanes, to help children in hospitals and schools with storytelling.
Stephanie’s work is on view at the Blair Museum of Lithophanes beginning August 3rd. The museum is free and open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4pm. We will be hosting an Artist reception on Friday August 16th from 6-8pm. Stephanie is also doing an Artist Talk and Lithophane workshop at Toledo Artist Club in the Toledo Botanical Garden on Saturday August 17th the talk begins at 10am and the lithophane workshop follows at 11:00. The artist talk is open to the public and located at Toledo Artist Club (directly across from the Blair Museum)
All about Eggs by Millicent Selsam, illustrated by Stephanie Fleischer Osser, Photo by: Cary Chou
In 1980, free-lance illustrator Stephanie Fleischer was assigned to illustrate a non-fiction children’s book, All About Eggs, written by Millicent Selsam. The book, which introduces children to the eggs of different animals showing what kinds of babies hatch from them, won an award in 1980 from the National Science Teachers Association Children’s Book Council Joint Committee as an outstanding science book for children.
When married, Stephanie added the last name of her husband David Osser to her own and continued her career as an illustrator. She drew aquatic life for the New England Aquarium in Boston, illustrated other non-fiction children’s books, textbooks, and adult trade books on horticulture, wildlife and anthropology research, a Muppet Craft book and eventually specialized in food and cookbook illustration.
Stephanie worked from home while taking care of the couple’s two children. But once her kids were teenagers and on the way to college, it became lonely over the home drawing board. She rediscovered an earlier passion from college and graduate school in ceramic arts. Enrolled in the community at the Ceramics Program Office for the Arts at Harvard University, near her home, she found peers and mentors to enrich her life and became a juried resident artist there, with a specialty of “Illustration in Clay.” She made architectural ceramic murals, casting her carvings in plaster for duplication and exploring various ceramic techniques. She also managed the ceramic studio at Babson College in Wellesley, MA part time and began gaining experience teaching, mentoring Babson’s students and those of nearby Wellesley and Olin Colleges who also used this studio.
Next came a passion for making more practical slip cast porcelain designs, taking illustrations from her previous career (and new ones) and producing “print on porcelain” and “in-glaze transfers” of the illustrations on to various products especially dinnerware. The Illustrations from All About Eggs were always among her favorites for these new uses. Encouraged by Dr. Margaret Carney, a curator of the Blair Museum of Lithophanes and author of the book “Lithophanes,” whom she got to know when exhibiting her work at the International Museum of Dinnerware Design in Ann Arbor, MI, Stephanie started making lithophanes, again using her copyrighted illustrations. She visited the museum in 2016 and was enchanted by the collection. Later she was accepted for a residency at the International Ceramic Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary. There she attended a workshop and learned techniques used by Ilona Romule, a noted porcelain ceramic artist from Latvia. Romule recently advertised her workshops using Fleischer- Osser’s lithophane of turtles hatching from their eggs, which came right out of All About Eggs once again, as an example of a work of one of her students.
That brings us to the present. Julia Darrah, Director of the Blair Museum of Lithophanes, proposed that Stephanie make an exhibit of her evolution from illustrator of All About Eggs to producing lithophanes featuring the same illustrations as in the book. One of those lithophanes, a large work with a boxed landscape of turtles hatching from eggs and heading into a pond plus three lithophane cups on top with hatchling turtles, has been part of the permanent collection of the museum since 2017.
Fleischer-Osser also cites as inspirational the teachers she has had from workshops at the Penland School of Crafts, and various colleagues from residencies at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine, the International Ceramic Research Center (Guldagergaard) in Denmark, and the Medalta Ceramic Arts Center, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Among those artists she was fortunate to learn from and share with over the years were Stanley Rosen, Rudy Autio, Nancy Selvage, Warren Mather, Shawn Panepinto, Amy Woods, Chris Chou, Wasma’a Chorbachi, Kathy King, Paul Wandless, Jason H. Green, Gala Sorkina, Marek Jacisin, Mitch Shiles, Masako Fujii, Paul Scott, Akio Takamori, Noriko Masuda, and Maria Geszler Garzuly.