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“If I had to describe it to your grandmother, it is like a big bowl or ashtray filled with all of the debris from the past.” Meet American artist Sterling Ruby, whom we interviewed in his Los Angeles studio about his unique work made from ceramic “shrapnel.”

“I’m a real pack-rat – I never throw anything away.” Ruby has kept the pieces from ceramics that were blown up in the firing process, turning his studio into a sort of “archive or archaeology site or dig site.” These pieces of the past – some of them 12-15 years old – have then been placed into a new form through a continuous process of re-firing and re-glazing: “There’s an archaeological aspect to having a lineage or a train of thought that has been running through the work the entire time. It’s exposing a lot of failures, and laying them on the table, and didactically making it what the work is about.”

Sterling Ruby (b. 1972) is an American artist, who moves freely between ceramics, painting, sculpture collage and video. A strong physical dimension is associated with the development of his works: very large canvases, enormous sculptures created with drip techniques and experimental ceramics created in a sequence of several firings. Ruby has expressed strong opposition to minimalism’s rejection of individuality and the craftsmanship in art, and as a response his works often appear scratched, camouflaged, dirty or splattered. Ruby’s work can be found in international collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Sterling Ruby was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his studio in Los Angeles, California in January 2016.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Miriam Nielsen
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016



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