Concrete Landscapes

Beguiling Series of Sculptures Injects Concrete with Light and Colour “The cylindrical forms I use come from looking at core samples during a geology class I took in my last semester at Rhodes College,” recalls Brooklyn-based artist Esther Ruiz about the inspiration for her vivid concrete-based sculptures. “I was fascinated with them not only physically, but also with the idea that these objects tell time and history.” That geological influence is sometimes pretty blatant in her sculptures, with many of them featuring stones, crystals and semi-precious gems atop their staid concrete bases. Others times they feature brilliant-coloured neon tubing giving a futuristic or other-worldly feel. 1 2 3

“My ‘core samples’ are from fictional places and planets, sometimes seemingly from the future.

This juxtaposition of the staid concrete plinth and the lurid adornments it hosts makes for a striking statement. “I’ve always been interested in dualities and how they interact and coexist. A lot of this imagery comes from geology, specifically minerals and strata,” explains Esther. “I also love the stark contrast of something raw and in some ways brutal sitting next to something shiny, colourful and man-made.” 4 The Plus: What is concrete like as a material to work with? Esther Ruiz: Concrete is so unforgiving, I have to prepare my moulds very accurately so I get it right on the first pour. 5 TP: Does each piece tell its own story or is the series a coherent narrative? ER: In some ways both. I consider the smaller sculptures mementos or relics of time spent in the studio. Like collecting snow-globes from places travelled, these smaller sculptures act as markers of time and space, real or imagined in my mind. The larger works, on the other hand, act a little differently because they occupy a bit more space physically and mentally. When grouped together, these sculptures describe fictional landscapes: real or imagined, physically and mentally. 6 TP: What do you do to relax? ER: Riding my bike always relaxes me, I commute to and from work and the studio on my bike everyday and it always slows down my day and allows me to reflect and introspect. But the most freeing thing I do regularly is attend techno dance parties. I go to a monthly techno party in Brooklyn and I almost always let go, l lose myself and then find myself in the music. I think it’s important to do periodically. 7 TP: You’ve been involved in curation previously, how does it differ being involved in an exhibition as a curator compared to as an artist? ER: It’s an interesting dichotomy to experience from both perspectives. I think both positions are based in narrative. Curators use other artists’ work to tell a story or shed light on common threads. As an artist, I’m using my own unique vocabulary. 8 TP: Have you got any exciting things coming up you’d like to share? ER: I have a solo show coming up at Platform Gallery in Baltimore that opens August 8th. And a group show in D.C. this fall. 9 10 11

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