Sterling Ruby’s provocative ceramics
Sterling Ruby: Ceramics is the artist's first solo museum show in New York at the Museum of Art and Design. The exhibition centers on Ruby's large ceramic works, showcasing over twenty fired and glazed clay basins and other hand-built objects. The show runs through March 17, 2019.
A diverse number of sources have inspired Ruby including mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoia, and cultural influences graffitti, hip-hop, punk, as well as urban gangs, prisons, globalization, waste and consumption. Working with a broad range of media including painting drawing, collage, sculpture and video, sculptures in clay have long held a fascinating and primary position in Ruby's broader studio work.
Though he has no interest in separating himself from the history of his materials, Ruby upends tradition by creating hybrid ceramic forms that are simultaneously familiar and alien. In a process heavily indebted to craft, he manipulates clay by hand and machine to arrive at basins or vessel-like containers that often hold the debris of previous kiln misfires. Akin to an Abstract Expressionist canvas, the clay provides a responsive, tactile surface that records Ruby's aggressive gestures. The finish on each piece is as important as its construction: thick glazes accumulate in deep glossy pools and drip from every form. Like a reverse archaeologist, Ruby embeds the results of his experiments in clay within the final art object.
Clay, which Ruby calls his "monument material," is a natural ingredient for his art. The medium has a long tradition across many cultures, used by artists and craftspeople to make both purely functional objects and high art. Unrestricted by theory, clay invites a free-form and spontaneous approach to art making, which has enabled Ruby to create an extraordinary body of work that is engaging, intuitive, and subversive. Unconcerned with preciousness or uniformity, the artist's ceramics celebrate the technical challenges of the medium, expanding its limits while conveying their dissolution altogether.
Ruby's larger body of work includes a wide range of formats, many with a relationship to craft traditions, both studio and amateur. In addition to ceramics, his practice incorporates fabric, found-metal sculpture, cardboard collages, and drawings on paper.
For more information visit the www.madmuseum.org.