Arthur Seen interviews artist Kathy Ruttenberg during her exhibition, “The Earth Exhales,” at STUX Gallery March 21 through May 5th, 2012.
Arthur Seen: Your artworks have an imaginative fairytale-like quality. Is there an ongoing fairytale that inspires all of your work? What would we witness if we could physically step inside the story?
Kathy Ruttenberg: The story unveils inside a world that you must enter to feel the narrative, deeper and deeper into the woods, following the forest nymph weave her way through life, reflections of her daily encounters. She morphs into different anthropomorphic characters to express various states of emotions.
Arthur Seen: What led you to ceramic sculpture and watercolor as a medium for your artworks? Were you a ceramist before university or did you find ceramics during your studies? Did the watercolors come first? How do you balance your workflow between the two mediums?
Kathy Ruttenberg: I was a very serious painter in art school and have always kept a watercolor diary of ideas which I do to this day. I always have a little pad and watercolors in my purse. I also had a split major and studied animation which added a playful quality to the work.
There is an important tension between the watercolor and sculptures, I use watercolors to dream and to visualize. I also began to build my paintings in old drawers, which I would find on the streets. I discovered after the fact some relation to Joseph Cornell’s boxes. I began using clay at that point with these mixed media boxes that were so fun to make. Finally the confine of the box fell away and this freedom helped me discover indeed that I was more comfortable in a 3 dimensional medium and fell deep into making ceramics while the oil paint dried up.
Arthur Seen: You’ve traveled to some very magical places during your career and studies. Did places like Tangier, Morocco and Amazonas, Brazil influence your artwork and subject matter?
Kathy Ruttenberg: Everything I do and see influences my work. I love to see wild places, forest and wildlife. I love to see new things which inspire new thoughts, I love to see different solutions, different approaches to humanity depending on the environment.
Arthur Seen: Last question. You grew up in Chicago, studied in NYC and traveled extensively before finding a home base in (i believe) Woodstock, NY. What advice would you have for young people considering moving to New York City to embark on a career in the arts?
Kathy Ruttenberg: Take the time to cultivate a vision that is yours.
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