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Indepth Arts News:

"Pre-eminent Artist Ginny Ruffner Creates Special Installation: Mind Garden"
2000-11-02 until 2001-02-25
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle, WA, USA

Mind Garden, an installation by nationally known artist Ginny Ruffner, will be presented by the Seattle Art Museum this fall as part of the Documents Northwest/The PONCHO Series. Tara Reddy, Assistant Curator of Modern Art and Trevor Fairbrother, SAM’s Deputy Director for Art/Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern Art are co-curators of the exhibition. Opening Nov. 2 on the Downtown museum’s fourth floor, the exhibition, which was commissioned by SAM especially for this space, will be on view through Feb. 25, 2001.

Intelligence and wit dominate Ruffner’s intensely creative art. Ruffner graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in painting and drawing in 1975. By 1985 she had moved to Seattle and was teaching at the Pilchuck School of Glass. By 1991, at age 39, Ruffner was on the board of the Seattle Arts Commission and the Pilchuck School and was president of the Glass Art Society; her work was featured in solo and group shows across the U.S. and around the world.

In the past several years, the workings of the brain have become of paramount interest to Ruffner. In Mind Garden, the artist transforms the gallery into a mixed-media metaphor for the creative mind. Through the use of dried rose petals (from more than 48,000 roses), steel and glass, Ruffner investigates the source of creativity, particularly the involvement of the mind as it defines both art and artist.

According to Ruffner, many elements of the installation can be perceived as symbolically representing parts of the thought process. The carpet of rose petals covering the floor signifies the plethora of neurons that physically create our thoughts; about 300 metal leaves, each holding a group of five blown-glass balls, stand for thoughts. The 30 or so eight-foot abstract hanging shapes covered with rose petals are creative ideas that seem to come from nowhere and organize the neurons. Steel sculptures that line the perimeter of the room are seen by Ruffner as symbols for beauty, the organizing intelligence of perceptions. Giant metal chains spanning the space itself represent thought patterns, which can be inhibitory.

The juxtaposition of opposites in this installation (hard vs. soft, organic vs. geometric, ephemeral vs. permanent), as well as the fascinating intellectual premise behind the art, is certain to make Mind Garden an arresting gallery experience.


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