A Q&A with Brie Ruais on using clay as a metaphor for land’s violent history was featured on Artspace.
When talking about an artwork, we often say “the artist’s hand” to reference the visible manifestation of the maker’s gestural craftmanship. But when talking about the sculpted works of Brie Ruais, “the artist’s body” might be more apt. Starting with a hunk of clay roughly the same weight as her own (130 pounds), Ruais uses her entire body to manipulate the clay. The resulting form is the physical evidence of a highly physical scuffle between artist and material.
With an ‘ecofeminist’ approach that conflates the domination over nature with the oppression of women, people of color, children, and the poor, Ruais sees clay (a material mined from the earth) as inherently tied to the landscape, and furthermore, equally capable of expressing a history of trauma and violence on it’s surface. In Phaidon’s newest edition of their influential ‘Vitamin’ series, Vitamin C: Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art, Louisa Elderton describes one of Ruais’s works as “characterized by its will to break free, away from the grid, constraint and order, ready to reconnect with the earth in the ground.”
Ruais received her MFA from Columbia in 2011 and has since presented an impressive number of solo shows at some of the hippest galleries for up-and-coming artists, like Cooper Cole in Toronto, Feuer/Mesler formerly in New York, Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton, Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco, and September Gallery in Hudson. Here, Artspace’s Loney Abrams speaks with the artist about the influence of Abstract Experssionism, society’s ever-changing conceptions of nature, and what it means to make work about the body and trauma during a moment in history when these topics are at the forefront of socio-political conversation.
To view the full post please visit Artspace.
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