Moody Center for the Arts opens its summer exhibition featuring large-scale ceramics by Brie Ruais
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Moody Center for the Arts opens its summer exhibition featuring large-scale ceramics by Brie Ruais
Brie Ruais, Compressing from West and East, Six Times 135 lbs, 2020, Glazed stoneware © Brie Ruais, Courtesy albertz benda, New York.

HOUSTON, TX.- The Moody Center for the Arts opened its summer exhibition Brie Ruais: Movement at the Edge of the Land

This is the first institutional solo exhibition featuring the artist Brie Ruais (b. 1982, Southern California) whose work challenges the static nature of sculpture. Ruais’s large-scale ceramic works highlight the physical and psychological connections between the human body and the earth, inviting viewers to reflect on our evolving relationship to the natural world.

“Brie Ruais has a unique ability to create powerful ceramic sculptures that, despite their size and weight, seem almost delicate. They symbolize the force and solidity of nature, but also reflect the fragility of our global environment,” says Associate Curator Frauke V. Josenhans. “Ruais approaches each work not only as sculpture, but also as performance. The dynamism of the artist’s movements can be seen in the clay: the traces of her palm, her knuckles, and her feet. She wrestles as well as embraces the medium, a metaphor for the earth. The unique and multifaceted aesthetic of her large-scale sculptures invigorates the medium of ceramic, and inscribes it in a fully contemporary approach, while connecting to larger topics.”

Addressing urgent questions resulting from human consumption and the scarcity of natural resources in the Anthropocene, Ruais’s work stresses our collective dependence on ecological preservation and the fragility of our ecosystem. Her sculptures point to the effect industrialized civilizations have had on landscapes, and the disregard for environmental, human and spiritual concerns. As we reconsider centuries of exploitation and the pollution of Earth’s air, water and soil, Ruais’s sculptures invite us to pause and reconnect with our natural environment and ourselves.

“My practice relies on the understanding that the land and the human body share similar vulnerabilities and ways of being affected, marked, and colonized,” says Ruais. “Each piece is made out of the equivalent of my body’s weight in clay and generated by physically intensive performance. The clay is pushed and spread out on the floor, rammed and compressed against a wall, torn and desiccated; I see the sculptures as bodies imprinted with the forces that have shaped them.”

Movement at the Edge of the Land features monumental ceramic sculptures created specifically for the Moody’s exhibition and mounted for the first time. Arranged on the floor and walls, the works interact with both the galleries and the Rice campus, referencing the transformation of the American landscape in the wake of human development. One part of the installation conveys the expansive, arid landscapes of the desert and another part the shore. By provoking an encounter between these two spaces that appear to be opposites, the exhibition finds tension and beauty in their connection and highlights the generative and creative potential of the in-between.

Withdrawing Body, Emerging Earth, a large-scale floor installation that extends from the interior of the gallery to the outdoor grounds, combines ceramic sculptures, construction debris, and raw materials like dirt and rock. Ruais presents us with the extracted materials of the built environment and reorients us to our surroundings through a bodily lens. The artist’s practice reflects the psychological and emotional resonances of the varying environments she inhabits: New York City, at the edge of an urban sea, and the deserts of the American West. A new video installation, Tidal Movement, presented in the Brown Foundation Gallery, poses timely concerns regarding the reorientation of human movement through the world, as we attempt to reconnect with nature and its cycles.

Brie Ruais is one of the foremost young sculptors working in clay today. Ruais received a BFA from New York University’s Steinhardt’s School in 2004, and an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2011. Her ceramic sculptures have been shown in various exhibitions, such as Formed and Fired: Contemporary American Ceramics at the Anderson Collection, Stanford University (2020), Afterimages at Musée d’art de Joliette, Québec (2020), America Will Be! Surveying the Contemporary Landscape at the Dallas Museum of Art (2019), and Crafted: Objects in Flux at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2015). She has received numerous awards and residencies including The Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant (2018), The Sharpe Walentas Studio Program (2018), the Dieu Donne Fellowhsip (2016), and The Shandaken Project Residency (2014). Her work is in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; the Pennsylvania Academy of Art, Philadelphia; the Pizzuti Collection, OH; and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

This exhibition is curated by Frauke V. Josenhans, Associate Curator, Moody Center for the Arts.

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