News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

Date: September 17, 2004 (04-84) 

PHOTO EDITORS: High-resolution images to accompany this story are available at /news/highresolutionimages/04/silbermanhighresolution/

95-Year-Old Student Holds Solo Sculpture Exhibit at Montgomery College
“Sarah Silberman: A 75-Year Retrospective” at Rockville Campus Oct. 4-22 

            On hot summer days when she was just a child, Sarah Silberman would scoop up tar from the side of the road to sculpt into little figures.  Just the sensation of molding the warm, pliable substance made her smile.  Since that time, Silberman has moved on to different materials – soft clay; cold blocks of sandstone and alabaster; and wet plaster – but the experience from long ago has not left her memory.  It has shaped who she is today – a 95-year-old artist who still loves getting her hands dirty. 

“Sarah Silberman: A 75-Year Retrospective” is Silberman’s solo sculpture exhibit on display from October 4-22, at Montgomery College’s Rockville Campus Art Gallery, located on the second floor of the Paul Peck Art Building, 51 Mannakee Street in Rockville, Maryland.  The opening reception will be held Monday, October 4, from 6-8 p.m. in the Art Gallery.  A slide lecture will be presented on Tuesday, October 12, at 12 p.m., in room 401 of the Paul Peck Art Building.  Silberman and adjunct faculty member John Beshoar, one of the exhibit organizers, will discuss her art work.

            “Sarah Silberman is such an inspiration to other Montgomery College students and faculty,” said Professor Kay McCrohan, the Rockville Campus art department chair and co-organizer of the exhibit.  “At 95 years old, she still is producing beautiful works of art.  Silberman is truly Montgomery College’s own special ‘artist-in-residence’”

“Sarah Silberman: A 75-Year Retrospective” explores Silberman’s full breadth of styles, from classical to abstract.  Silberman delights in using a wide range of materials for her sculptures, including wood, plaster, alabaster, clay, and metal.  Examples of each medium will be on display in the exhibit.  The works represent 75 years of creative exploration and artistic evolution.

Silberman began her formal study of sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  After marrying and moving to Washington, D.C. in 1941, she enrolled as a graduate student at the Corcoran College of Art and Design.  Silberman eventually took a break from her studies and focused on raising her family, but art never took a backseat.  In fact, she continued to sculpt and build upon her already blossoming collection. 

“I love people,” said Silberman.  “I love doing figures.  When you do realism, you have to include all the principles of art.  Everything is involved in doing figures.”

In 1981, Silberman found Montgomery College, a place where she could learn and work alongside other student artists who were young at heart.  She has taken or audited more than 170 classes at the College’s Rockville Campus. 

“Sarah has been at the College now for nearly a quarter of a century,” remarks John Beshoar, an adjunct faculty member and co-organizer of the exhibit.  “Through her seventies, eighties, and into her nineties, she continues to produce one impressive work after another, always drawing on her past experience and training, but also innovating.”

To get to Montgomery College, Silberman drives from her Silver Spring home, which she considers her biggest sculpture yet, as it was built by her, her two sons, and the help of a do-it-yourself book.  She totes her tools and latest pieces of art in her car and, with the help of a small cart, wheels them into the Rockville Campus sculpture studio.  There, the four-feet-eight Silberman is often spotted shaping her sculpture or focusing intently on its minute details, sizing up what she wants to change or improve.    

“I’m with creative people, which is stimulating,” explained Silberman.  “Being my age, I’m the grandmother to most of the kids [Montgomery College students].”

   In April, Montgomery College honored Silberman with an Outstanding Alumni Award, for her lifelong commitment to learning.  Despite the award and her solo exhibit at the College, Silberman remains modest about her success. 

“I’m very flattered and amazed at the people who are so interested in me,” said Silberman with a laugh.  “I think it’s remarkable.  I am very lucky.”

For more information about “Sarah Silberman: A 75-Year Retrospective,” call 240-567-5115 or log on to:

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park, plus workforce development and continuing education centers in Gaithersburg, Wheaton and  Silver Spring. The College serves nearly 50,000 students a year, through both credit and non-credit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.