If Ann Ruppert’s wood sculptures seem to have been grown, not carved — well, that all comes down to how each sculpture emerges from the material.
Ruppert, who sculpts wood, stone, and other media, was the winner of this month’s Bertha G. Harrison Memorial Fund Award for Classical Sculpture. We asked her about working with her favorite media, her figural work, and more:
How did Reverie come to be?
Ann Ruppert: Reverie was a round piece of walnut and it said “figure.” I was on vacation and found the wood there, leading to the water, therefore the title Reverie.
Why do you work in wood and stone?
Wood and stone are a natural media and you never know what you will find. It’s exciting when you start seeing the grain in both, following the shapes of the form, because you really don’t know how it will react to your shape. As with Reverie, it was both exciting and rewarding to see as it flowed with her shape.
What’s your creative process like — do you start with the material, the idea, a sketch … ?
If I’m having a problem with an idea, sometimes a clay model or sketch will give me a view of something I’m visualizing in my head. Of course the clay model will give me a 3-D view.
There are times when I will go with the forms in the stone, simplify them and a pleasing line will appear, then I will go with that to get my forms to relate to each other.
With stone, sometimes, I will see something and go with it, or I work with a sketch or a model in clay, being flexible.
What does it mean to “see something” in stone?
I had a large stone sitting in my fireplace for several months and I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, no inspiration yet and one day as I was passing by, I saw what seemed to be two figures, embracing. From there it just circled around, as their arms enfolded each other and included a child form.
What keeps you coming back to the human figure?
I love the human and animal form, because there is so much fluidity in them. I also enjoy curves, which they both have. I am a people- and animal-watcher, so I try to recreate a representational form of them.
Why do you think you like curves?
I have always seen beauty in the human and animal form: the head of a mother looking down at her child, the curve of a polar bear or horse’s neck, also. I even enjoy curves in my abstracts, as in infinity. Curves seem endless.
How have your figural pieces changed over time?
Not so much. I’m more representational now, but I still like rounded forms, even in abstracts.
The December Open Exhibit is on view through Saturday, December 31.