Archives of American Art

A Finding Aid to the Ralph Bacerra Papers, 1957-2015, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.baceralp
Creators:
Bacerra, Ralph, 1938-2008
Dates:
1957-2015
Languages:
English
.
Physical Description:
3.4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of Los Angeles ceramic artist and educator Ralph Bacerra measure 3.4 linear feet and date from 1957 to 2015. The collection documents Bacerra's career through correspondence, professional activity files including teaching files from Chouinard Art Institute and Otis Art Institute, exhibition files, writings and notes including the artist's ceramic formulas and a diary, artwork including sketchbooks and drawings, photographs including images of Bacerra and his work, and printed material relating to Bacerra's career.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of Los Angeles ceramic artist and educator Ralph Bacerra measure 3.4 linear feet and date from 1957 to 2015. The collection comprises correspondence with the Decorative Arts Council, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Theo Portnoy Gallery, and others; professional activity files including teaching files from Chouinard Art School and Otis College of Art, exhibition files, and a file for his National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts award. Also found are writings and notes containing ceramic formulas, Bacerra's student notes, and a diary record of his road trip with Vivika Heino in 1959; artwork consisting of sketchbooks and drawings from Chouinard, the Shoji Hamada workshop at the University of Southern California, and other sketches of ceramic designs; photographic materials of Bacerra and his work, personal photographs, Asian art, sculptures, and travel; and printed materials relating to Bacerra's career.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1959-2002 (0.2 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 2: Professional Activity Files, 1959-2013 (0.4 linear feet; Boxes 1, 4, OV 5)
  • Series 3: Writings and Notes, 1957-circa 1990s (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)
  • Series 4: Artwork, circa 1959-circa 1970s (0.2 linear feet; Boxes 1, 4)
  • Series 5: Photographic Material, 1958-2001 (1.8 linear feet; Boxes 2-4)
  • Series 6: Printed Material, 1958-2015 (0.4 linear feet; Box 4, OV 5)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Ralph Bacerra (1938-2008) was a ceramic artist and educator in Los Angeles, California.
Born to a Filipino father and mother from Montana, Bacerra grew up on a farm in Garden Grove, California where his parents settled before he was born. Bacerra began studying art in high school and later went onto study commercial art and ceramics with Bill Payne at Orange Coast Junior College. Bacerra planned on continuing his commercial art studies when he enrolled in Chouinard Art Institute, now the California Institute of the Arts, but changed his major to ceramics after taking a class with Vivika Heino, who became his mentor. Heino and her husband Otto were respected figures in the ceramics field. In 1959, on a road trip from Los Angeles to New Hampshire, Heino introduced Bacerra to prominent artists across the country.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bacerra joined the Army and served for two years. Upon his return to Los Angeles, he began teaching at Chouinard. Heino, who headed the ceramics department at the time, left the school to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design, leaving the department in the hands of Bacerra and John Fassbinder. A few years later, Bacerra became the department head. In 1971, when Chouinard became the California Institute of Art, the ceramics department was discontinued. Over the next decade, Bacerra focused on studio work and travel to Asia, and the influence of Japanese Imari and celadon can be seen in Bacerra's work. Bacerra also did commercial work for the Induction Stove Corporation and developed an advanced ceramics technique using electromagnetic induction. From 1983 to 1997, Bacerra taught at the Otis Art Institute. After retiring, he devoted his time to studio work.
Bacerra's work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. In 1998, he was awarded honorary membership by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
Bacerra died in Eagle Rock, California in 2008.

Administration
Author
Sarah Mundy
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Ralph Bacerra papers were donated in 2003 by Ralph Bacerra, in 2016 by Cindy Bass, Bacerra's niece and executor, and in 2017 by Jo Lauria Fargo on behalf of Bass as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.
Processing Information
The collection was processed, and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2021.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Preferred Citation
Ralph Bacerra papers, 1957-2015. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
Also in the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview of Ralph Bacerra conducted on April 7-19, 2004 by Frank Lloyd, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Los Angeles, California.

More Information

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ceramicists -- California -- Los Angeles Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Educators -- California -- Los Angeles Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Asian American artists Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Filipino American artists Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American studio craft movement Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Moore, Eudorah M. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Heino, Vivika, 1910-1995 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Chouinard Art Institute (Los Angeles, Calif.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Otis Art Institute Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions