And Spring arose on the garden fair, Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant
Kathy Ruttenberg, The Messenger, Ceramic Sculpture, Courtesy and © Kathy Ruttenberg.
The environmentally astute fairytale sculptures of Chicago-born, New York-based artist Kathy Ruttenberg inhabit an allegorically charged world of unconscious drives, Ovidian transformations and feminist-inflected narratives. Described by Donald Kuspit as perhaps the most creative, certainly unusual, ceramic art being made today, Ruttenberg’s work is populated with women sprouting or metamorphosing into trees, flowers, birds, snails, antlers and crabs. Figurines of whimsical caterpillars, bats and rabbits are intricately rendered in clay and watercolor, a three-dimensional counterpart to the poetry and visions of William Blake a la Beatrix Potter. “The tools for my work are fire, earth and emotions,” Ruttenberg writes. “This mix makes an interesting cocktail of allegory and symbolism, with an odd twist of nature. In my world, where the wind blows with intensity, animals and humans often share the moment.”