Donna Ruff grew up in Miami Beach and lives there again after years in New York and Santa Fe. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in the US, Europe and Asia. Her work has been acquired by the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Morgan Library, and JP Morgan Chase, among other public collections. Publications include Book Art: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books, published by Gestalten, and New American Paintings, Volume 124. She is represented by Rick Wester Fine Art in New York.
What captures my attention as an artist are ordinary things, artifacts of lives lived and time passing: a folded newspaper, a mosaic tile, a frayed textile. I find visual patterns in these artifacts and recreate and expand upon them in a slow, deliberate process that replicates a sense of aging and imperfection through cutting and layering the resulting works on paper. The paper I choose is essential to the result. I often work on pre-existing media such as newspaper and books, cutting away some of the content, but I also use handmade paper to contrast my drawing on pure white grounds.
Reflective paints, metal leaf, and fragmented forms suggesting drapery and brocade impart to the works an opulence reminiscent of the Baroque. This richness, though, is belied by the ephemeral nature of the paper, a simple material whose malleability and strength nonetheless allows great versatility. These intricate visual patterns invite close inspection, revealing dense groupings of small repetitive marks that pierce the paper and create a secondary pattern of negative space. Some patterns are interrupted, or left purposely incomplete, others run off the edges of their support.
My grandparents owned a scrap paper company. I remember the bales of shredded paper at the warehouse, and how my grandmother would tape pages of discarded books back together to give them to my sister and me. I learned as a child that paper has weight and heft, and that there is beauty and meaning in the old and discarded. Bringing that sensibility into my art practice allows me to feel that I can capture the past in an enduring present.
Medium: Drawing & Sculpture