Beverly Pepper, A Presence of Her Own

Lately I’ve been motivated by my goal to post about every woman artist with work on the Boston Public Art Walk before Women’s History Month next year. Sudden Presence is Beverly Pepper’s Cor-ten steel sculpture on that walk. I finally tracked it down and paced around it this week, though it has been there a few decades.  (Photo captions are quotes from description on Boston Public Art website.) 

Meanwhile, Pepper’s slender bronze and brass  Silent Presence has stood in Alice’s Garden at deCordova Sculpture Park almost as long. As a guide in the park, I sometimes noted it in passing but seldom stopped to study it. (Photo captions are quotes from description on deCordova website.) 

Only now, from Beverly Pepper’s startling biography in Wikipedia and her impressive Beverly Pepper website, I realize she has a prolific presence of her own as an innovative artist, still productive in her 90’s. Certainly I felt her strong presence in a lively interview-based article sparked by an exhibit of her work in London in 2014.  For example, about her work in the early 1960’s …

Pepper says she was arguably the first artist ever to make sculptures from Cor-Ten steel, a brand of weathering steel, now very much in vogue. She describes working alongside metalworkers, who called her “Bev”, in factories in America where she was the only woman. “I was terrified most of the time,” she says. “But I learnt to be bossy.” [from “the brilliant artist you’ve never heard of, an interview with sculptor Beverly Pepper” by Kate Salter, June 2014]

Photos and captions from Beverly Pepper website.

Photos and captions from installations and work in progress on her website.

Photos and captions from three different stone presences on her website.

Beverly Pepper’s purposeful presence should keep me going with my goals for Art Outdoors!

List of Eye-opening  Resources

Beverly Pepper artist website:

Interview with Beverly Pepper by Kate Salter, June 2014:

Wikipedia biography of Beverly Pepper:

Beverly Pepper: New Works, 2014 catalog:




  1. Judy Fosdick · · Reply

    Deb, the interview article about Beverly’s life and work in Italy is delightful. Thank you for introducing this amazing woman to your followers. I will come out to DeCordova at a time this summer when you are available to show me the Pepper sculpture. Your Art Outdoors pieces always educate and fascinate me. Thanks! Judy Fosdick


  2. “I wish to make an object that has a powerful presence, but is at the same time inwardly turned, seeming capable of intense self-absorption.” -Beverly Pepper via the Boston arts commission. In a way it certainly achieved that. As a suburban skate punk in the 80’s the piece we lovingly referred to as “metals” was our monolith around which we bore out our intensely self absorbed monkey business. To wit though it may have seemed a nuisance at the time and perhaps disrespectful of the piece itself of those who took flight on and off it, many became artists (myself included). This piece has literally not only survived the elements and test of time, but the test of adolescence and the blood, sweat, and tears that come with it.


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