Join artist Ruby Sky Stiler and exhibition curator and Director of the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Ian Berry on Thursday, September 10th at 6 p.m. for the opening night virtual conversation!
Throughout her multifaceted practice, Stiler pulls references from Greco-Roman antiquity, Art Deco illustrations, and the varied dialects of twentieth-century abstraction. Her sculpture and wall-based works often take shape as archaeological reconstructions; female and male nudes, amphorae, and mosaic patterning are all repeating motifs. Though much of the artist’s visual language is rooted in the ancient past, Stiler’s use of materials is distinctly contemporary: she often incorporates plaster, paper, acrylic resin, glue, graphite, stained wood, and air brush into her work. Her signature wall reliefs are rhythmic puzzles, drawing attention equally to their surfaces and to the discrete shapes contained within; accumulating colors, patterns and textures to create dense portraits or geometric configurations. Each shard of the mosaic carries its own history, oftentimes visible in daily notes scrawled in pencil, or of drafting marks which display the artist’s hand. This play between material and authenticity establishes a tension between high and low, past and present.
Recently, Stiler’s work has expanded to include the subject of father and child. The dearth of art historical precedent for depictions of men displaying emotional intimacy, or being defined by their relationship to their children, is in stark contrast to the abundant impressions of mother and child. Stiler attempts to upend these cultural and historical assumptions and stereotypes by depicting the role of father as the “nurturer” and “maternal,” while her female figures often stand alone, in proximity to the family unit, but not being defined by it.
The exhibition will include new functional sculptures which are positioned around the gallery and assume the role of a museum ‘viewing bench.’ Here, the bench is comprised of reduced, gestural lines in space that resemble human figures, cut from wood. Stiler’s benches straddle the space between utilitarian form and sculptural object, inviting viewers to sit and consider their own bodies in relation to the exhibition space, the artwork that surrounds them, as well as the sculptural bodies that support their own physical ones. Berry says, “Stiler’s benches, which she began making well before our current pandemic experience, now take on new meanings with regard to gathering and rest. Could they be of comfort in a time of distancing? Her reclining female figures and relaxing fathers and children seem to be at ease, and might offer us quiet company as we rest, one at a time, in the gallery.”
Register on Eventbrite for the link to the conversation!