Ira Sherman has been exploring the boundaries of metal fabrication and design since the early
1970s, both as a highly successful custom goldsmith and jeweler, and as an internationally
recognized sculptor. His sculptural work uses materials and shapes from science and
technology, yet “bio-engineered” to interact with the audience or viewer in a uniquely human
way. Many of Sherman’s pieces are, in fact, “prostheses” created around a humorous social
concept. These are worn on the body, and may be shockingly intimate. Many of Sherman’s
sculptures have sensors that let them interact with the participant or the audience. Parts of his
current traveling exhibitions, "Panaceas to Persistent Problems" and "Impenetrable Devices"
have been displayed in exhibitions in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Israel and Japan; the Spertus
Museum , the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art , the
Regional Transporation District of Denver Public Art Collection and the National Ornamental
Metal Museum have aquired Sherman art work for their permanent collections.
Recognizing the fascination his complex creations hold for the mechanically minded, the
computer-driven, sci-fi buffs, and sculpture-lovers of the far out, Wired magazine included a
feature on Sherman in the March 1995 issue, labeling his sculptures as "appliance
technology." Techno art curator Laura McGough defines Sherman's sculpture as a
"Performing Prosthetic Aesthetic.....a cyborg body performance." Popular Mechanics Magazine
call Sherman's art the, "Ultimate Interactive Sculpture."
Sherman is a founding Chairperson of the Colorado Metalsmithing Association, and is a 20
year member of Society of North American Goldsmiths. He has helped developed programs for
non-profit art organizations as well as religious, educational and community organizations.
- Charlie Lewis, CA Art Critic
IRA SHERMAN ARTIST METALSMITH INVENTOR
Sherman's childhood might be cautiously labeled happy if it were not for his childhood
obsession with the holocaust. His Jewish father fought the Germans in W.W.II and was severely
injured from land mind explosions. .(his rescuers also stepping on land minds) .... "watching
the recovery of my father left lasting fears and apprehensions of war and my identify as a Jew
was burdened with a strong fear and infatuation with the holocaust, especially the medical
experiments and mechanized methodical techniques the Germans used to experiment,
dominate and destroy the Jewish culture of Europe."
Sherman was raised in a Jewish neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. Many of his
neighbors were holocaust survivors. While some individuals were extremely bitter from the
experience other more observant Jewish survivors seemed to cherish life often attributing their
survival as witness to Hitler's failed attempt to destroy the Jewish people. "I could not
understand this feeling and sided with the fearful bitter individuals...... If you are a Jew the
Germans or the world for that matter wanted to kill you. This persistent fear ruined my
childhood and severed my connection from Judaism. As a young adult Ira replaced his Jewish
identity with that of an artist willing to explore darker and more disturbing emotional content in
his work. Sherman sought to reconnect with his Jewish identify but still allow his edgy artist
expressions. Sherman's work all at once began to express beauty, anger, violence and
redemption. He chose to compartmentalize his metalsmithing skills to simultaneously create
stunning precious jewelry and institutional Judaica.
Ira's grandfather, a Russian immigrant, escaping the dangers of the Russian pogroms, started
the families used machinery business located in a downtown Chicago industrial area. Ira spent
many childhood hours examining and "playing" with the powerful metal fabrication equipment,
absorbing the function and mechanical aesthetic of each type of machine.
The grimy public transportation trip from the Sherman's Chicago's north side four flat to his
fathers business was grim and almost void of any pleasant aesthetic. "At an early age I found
myself wanting to manipulate mechanical architectural lines into lyrical beautiful forms. At first
as drawings and sketches and later as found object sculpture. The almost universal
acceptance of impressionistic and abstract art in post war America gave me the freedom to let
my mind explore any direction, concept or morality in my art and design." This artistic
exploration started at a very young age but really did not appear in any of Sherman's art
objects until the early 70s when Ira was introduced to formal metalsmithing techniques that
allowed him to master metal as an expressive media. The anything goes attitude of the 60s
further challenged Sherman to take on concepts and techniques that are rarely melded into
physical art objects.
As an asthmatic, nervous and allergic child Ira spent many hours at the doctors for weekly
allergy shots, fluoroscope exams for stomach problems and yearly booster shots. "Some of my
doctors were chain smoking quacks. I began to associate the instruments of their medical
profession with the instruments used by the Nazis to experiment and torture the Jews."
Sherman began to blend the inspirations and aesthetics of his fathers metal fabrication
machines, his doctors medical instruments and prosthetic legs worn by his wounded father into
a new collections of sculptures he titles, "Panaceas to Persistent Problems and Impenetrable
Each of Sherman's prosthetic devices are designed to be stunningly beautiful, technically
ingenious, culturally challenging and intimately attached to human experience. Early
conceptual sculptures gave way to plausible machines that regulate aggressive, sexual,
antisocial behaviors but using a lovely aesthetic to counter an ugly temperament.
copyright 2012 Ira D Sherman all rights reserved