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Des Moines Art Center organzes first museum exhibition of ceramic works by L.A.-based artist Sterling Ruby
Sterling Ruby (American, born Germany, 1972), Basin Theology / SACRUM SACRAL, 2017. Ceramic, 20 x 66 x 43 inches. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio.

DES MOINES, IA .- On Saturday, June 9 the Des Moines Art Center opened Sterling Ruby: Ceramics, which runs through September 9, 2018.

This is 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 rests 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.

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