DES MOINES––L.A.-based ceramist Sterling Ruby’s recent exhibition Sterling Ruby: Ceramics at the Des Moines Art Center showcases the artist’s idiomatic ceramic confections (June 9 – September 9, 2018). Possessing intoxicating complexity and depth, Ruby’s articulate forms upend tradition while also contextualize the history of their material.
In addition to its physical properties, the medium has a very long tradition across many cultures. Artists and craftsmen have transformed it into the purely functional and the vernacular, or high art simultaneously. It can be unrestricted by theory and also freeform and spontaneous.
Simultaneously familiar and alien, Ruby’s works include a nod to Cy Twombly’s white, ethereal sculptures, the center adds, while also resembling child-like, insubordinate and subversive energies.
He rolls, punches, assembles, fingers, and manipulates clay by hand and machine to arrive at basins or vessel-like containers that often hold the debris of previous kiln misfirings…Akin to Abstract Expressionist canvases, the clay provides a responsive, tactile surface as it records Ruby’s aggressive gestures.
Like a reverse archeologist, the center writes, Ruby records the results of his tactile and kinesthetic experiments in his clay medium––his process archived within the final art object itself.
For Ruby, process and materiality are paramount. Ruby’s ceramic output contains objects that could appear to be in entropy or the result of violent actions, but they are much more.
Ruby’s investigations continue with his surface applications as thick glazes drip and puddle in deep, glossy pools. Engaging, intuitive, and subversive, Ruby attempts to upend any assumptions of the role and purpose of art.
Sterling Ruby: Ceramics is organized by Director Jeff Fleming.
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