This spring the Baltimore Museum of Art presents a selection of soft sculptures created by Sterling Ruby, heralded by the New York Times as “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century.” On view in the Contemporary Wing March 16 – June 15, 2014, Front Room: Sterling Ruby features the artist’s large-scale, pillow-like forms that take the shape of vampires’ mouths with fabric fashioned into fangs and dangling drops of blood.
Ruby’s work often employs practices associated with therapy and craft and frequently addresses oppressive political, social, and artistic power structures. The 11 soft sculptures on view are covered in patriotic red, white, and blue—combining imagery associated with the United States with fragments of vampires, undead creatures that feed off the living. This visual metaphor suggests the artist’s critical outlook on the state of American culture and politics at the beginning of the 21st century.
“The imposing scale of his work—the largest more than 13 X 17 feet—combined with the disarming choice of a fabric medium and toy-like forms challenges the commanding authority of cultural symbols and public monuments,” says BMA Curator of Contemporary Art Kristen Hileman. Though seemingly inviting and celebratory at first glance, upon further inspection, the yards of red, white, and blue materialize as stitched symbols of insatiable hunger, overwhelming power, and potential violence.
Ruby, based in Los Angeles, was born in Germany, and raised in Baltimore and rural eastern Pennsylvania. The influential and prolific artist has exhibited internationally at prestigious institutions including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, and La Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Bergamo, Italy. His work is also included in numerous public collections such as The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Art Gallery of Ontario, and Tate Collection in London.
Ruby received his bachelor’s degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He pursued his graduate studies at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.