People A-Z  /  Sylvia Lieh Rosen

Ceramic Artist, Teacher, Philanthropist.



Defying the attitudes of establishment art critics and institutions in WNY, Sylvia Rosen, upended definitions of what constituted art, giving craft artists the philanthropic support needed, while also changing attitudes to art itself. An artist in her own right, Sylvia came to Buffalo in the 1940s. Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1919, she graduated from East High School in Columbus and went to Ohio State University to study Fine Arts Education. There she met her future husband, Nathan David Rosen. They married in 1941 and Sylvia came to Buffalo where she and her husband co-founded William Korn and Company, a jewelry display manufacturing business. Sylvia served as treasurer from 1945 to 1949.

Raising a family in the 1940s, she continued to work as an artist, and began instructing in ceramics at SUNY, Buffalo State College (now University) from 1963. Obtaining an MS Ed in Fine Arts in 1971, she continued to expand her teaching responsibilities, while also exhibiting her ceramic art within shows at the Cleveland Museum of Art (1943); the Buffalo Craftsmen Exhibition (1957-1970); the Albright–Knox Members Gallery (1962); the Buffalo State 125th Anniversary Exhibition (1996); and the Contemporary New York State Crafts Exhibition (1997), among others.

With her late husband, Nathan, Sylvia Rosen established the Sylvia L. Rosen Endowment for Fine Arts in Craft Media in 1987, for biennial craft art exhibitions at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The first exhibition took place in 1988. Since then, these events have advanced the recognition of craft media in Western New York and the endowment has provided for the underwriting of multiple juried exhibitions.

Among other awards, Sylvia was the recipient of the Alumni Leadership Award from the former Buffalo State College and awards from the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies. Apart from her own art, her legacy can be found in the upcoming 15th biennial event in 2023, which provides a space open to artists working in glass, fiber, wood, clay, metal, and other craft media who work in Western New York. It has launched the careers of two generations of artists and continues to inspire and provide for future artists.