Kathy Ruttenberg: Despite Appearances, ‘The Earth Exhales’ is no Fairytale

NEW YORK—Branches sprout from a woman’s head, petrified tree trunks rise from another’s breasts and a third is impaled through her torso by a blossoming tree. At first glance, Kathy Ruttenberg‘s ceramic sculptures appear to be whimsical, sylvan vignettes complete with leaves, flowers, birds, rabbits and deer. Upon closer examination, darker themes emerge. “The Earth Exhales,” her show at STUX Gallery, explores fertility and barrenness, desire and fantasy, power and submission. The ambiguous metaphors invite interpretation. While Ruttenberg’s figures are beautiful and delicately crafted, they are far from light hearted, leaving most visitors wandering through the gallery with expressions of uncertainty, but nonetheless intrigued.

Ruttenberg’s work was on view at STUX Gallery from March 22 to May 5, 2012.

All photos by Arts Observer

Above, “Submission,” 2008 (ceramic and cloth). Top of page, Detail of “Overgrown,” 2010 (ceramic).

“Grounded,” 2009 (ceramic and bronze).

“Overgrown,” 2010 (ceramic).

At right, “Overgrown,” 2010 (ceramic) and, in background, “Venom,” 2010 (ceramic).

“The Moment After,” 2008 (ceramic and bronze).

“Fatal Attraction,” 2006 (ceramic and bronze).

Detail of “Here Forever,” 2010 (bronze).

“Wildflower,” 2010 (ceramic and bronze).

“Tree Hugger,” 2010 (ceramic, bronze and wood).

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