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Des Moines Art Center organizing first museum exhibition of ceramic works by L.A.-based artist Sterling Ruby

Posted on Thursday, February 8, 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith
Tel: 515.271.0343
Email: bbsmith@desmoinesartcenter.org

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Des Moines Art Center organizing first museum exhibition of ceramic works by L.A.-based artist Sterling Ruby

DES MOINES, IOWA (January 2018) – On Saturday, June 9 the Des Moines Art Center will open Sterling Ruby: Ceramics, which runs through September 9, 2018.    

This will be the first museum exhibition to focus on the artist’s ceramic works. Approximately 30 fired and glazed clay basins and hand-built objects comprise the show. Extensive educational programming will be offered free to the public and a full-color catalog will also accompany the exhibition. It is anticipated the exhibition will travel to additional venues.

Sculptures in clay have long played a fascinating and primary position in Ruby’s broader studio work. Although heavily indebted to craft, these works are not trapped in history, and therein lays their strength. Ruby upends tradition in these hybrid forms; the objects are familiar but simultaneously alien. However, Ruby is not interested in separating himself from the history of his materials. For him, process and materiality are paramount. Ruby rolls, punches, assembles, fingers, and manipulates clay by hand and machine to arrive at basins or vessel-like containers that often hold the debris of previous kiln firings. Like a reverse archeologist, Ruby records the results of his experiments in the clay medium within the final art object itself. To Ruby, the clay medium functions as his “monument material.” To this end, each artwork will rest on a pedestal emphasizing its status as a monument.

Ruby’s body of work includes a wide range of formats. In addition to ceramics, his media incorporate fabric, large-scale paintings, found-metal sculpture, cardboard collages, and drawings on paper. Ruby’s most recent project was at the Belvedere Museum’s Winterpalais in Vienna. Both The Drawing Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, have presented solo shows of his work. His artwork is also found in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among others. Sterling Ruby: Ceramics is organized by Jeff Fleming, director.

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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