Inside the Collection: Brad Silberberg
“I used to think that my artwork was a way to explore materials, tools, and techniques while learning new ways to make decorative objects. I have come to recognize that what I was really exploring was myself. When I look at my work now, I see the reflection of all of the joy and pain of my life and the struggle to understand that self as I mastered the tools and materials. I see glimmers of my ancestry and the shadows of my Soul’s history.” – Brad Silberberg 
Brad Silberberg was born in 1953 in Baltimore, MD. He attended the University of Maryland and earned a BA in Studio Art. He started his career as a sculptor of both wood and stone and built a woodworking studio in his garage in 1979. According to Silberberg, “I began blacksmithing as a way to make tools for my artwork and fell in love with it.” He learned most of his blacksmithing skills through reading books and practicing techniques, and his first forge was in a chicken coop. In 1986, Silberberg founded Bradley Metal Design, Inc., in Silver Spring, MD. The business focused on creating architectural metalwork such as furniture, lighting, railings, gates, and fences in steel, bronze, copper, and stainless steel. Additionally, he worked with clients to reproduce and restore historic ironwork.
"As I began to build architectural commissions I became aware that I was making art that was defined by its practical function, possessing a built-in-purpose. Lately, I have [been] …exploring purely sculptural and less-than-functional forms in forged iron. Having mastered the manipulation of the material, self expression in and of itself now seems a valid purpose.” – Brad Silberberg 
In his decorative and sculptural works, Silberberg is known for using the fly press, and he has demonstrated the technique for ABANA chapters all over the United States. As opposed to a hydraulic press, he believes that the fly press allows the artist a better sense of touch and control over the metal as it moves. Several of his works in the Metal Museum’s Permanent Collection were made with the fly press.
The Metal Museum currently has 12 works by Brad Silberberg in the Permanent Collection. This includes a vessel entitled Container for Errors in the Code and eleven jewelry pieces: three bracelets, one neckpiece, four brooches, and three pairs of earrings. Six of his works are made from cast aluminum, one from bronze, and five others, including the vessel, were forged and fly pressed from steel or stainless steel. He employs geometric patterns in most of these jewelry pieces, and in addition to various line patterns, he uses triangles, pyramids, and swirls. However, one of pairs of cast aluminum earrings features the faces of a man and a woman, the man staring straight at the woman while she has her eyes closed. Container for Errors in the Code is one of Silberberg’s series of “squashed containers,” and the process by which he creates them is described in Jack Andrew’s New Edge of the Anvil. Most of his work in our Permanent Collection is on view in the Library’s Visible Storage Gallery.
After living and working for 25 years in Maryland, Silberberg moved to Burgettstown, PA with his late wife Kate in 2004. Together they founded the Mesa Creative Arts Center there and ran the organization together until Kate passed away in 2013. He is still very active with Mesa Creative Arts and is still creating new work and teaching classes there.
2. Jack Andrews, New Edge of the Anvil (Drexel Hill, PA: SkipJack Press, 1994), 189.