Born in Chicago, Ed Rossbach earned a B.A degree in 1940 at the University of Washington, an M.A. in 1941 at Columbia University, and an M.F.A. in 1947 at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Rossbach has taught textile design at the University of California at Berkeley and has a special interest in textiles created off the loom. This interest led him to experiment with basketry, using unconventional materials such as plastics.
In recognition of Rossbach’s distinguished work, he was elected a fellow of the American Craft Council in 1975 and named a “Living Treasure of California” by the Creative Arts League in Sacramento.
Kenneth R. Trapp and Howard Risatti Skilled Work: American Craft in the Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998)
Ed Rossbach began making baskets out of tundra grasses while stationed in the Aleutians during World War II, and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy on the GI Bill. Like Pat Hickman and Lillian Elliott, he became part of the Bay Area fiber arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s, challenging traditional forms and media in basketmaking. He used plastic, metal, food cartons, and old newspapers to express his delight in American popular culture. A carefully crafted basket made out of trash was Rossbachs challenge to his audience to rediscover the joy of doing, of creating something of no value that was still beautiful.