Sterling Ruby, ACTS/WS ROLLIN, 2011. Clear urethane block, dye, wood, spray paint, and formica, 60 1/2 x 62 1/2 x 34 inches (153.7 x 158.8 x 86.4 cm). Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio, Los Angeles. © Sterling Ruby Studio
At first glance, Sterling Ruby’s ACTS/WS ROLLIN is gritty, imposing, solid yet precarious. The surface of the base is reminiscent of city streets, complete with graffiti. The off-balanced resin block shot through with red is, from afar, a bit unnerving.
After approaching the piece for the first time, however, my perspective shifted as I inspected the details more closely. The ink droplets now appeared less threatening as they formed beautiful, delicate curls seemingly frozen in time. At a closer distance each vein is more distinguishable in its own trail, and every detail is striking and unique. The suspended liquid arrests your attention and refuses to let go.
Reflecting on the current situation and my own state of mind, I can’t help but recall my first reaction to Ruby’s piece. As I write this, working from home, I am reminded of my initial anxiety when confronted with this imposing sculpture. Life is often unnerving, uncertain, and precarious—somewhat like this lopsided stack of blocks. However, within the overwhelming chaos, moments of beauty can be found.
In the past few weeks, I have had some time to appreciate not only what obstacles life throws at you, but also the treasures it holds. I have recently had more time with my husband, making me appreciate his compassion, patience, and humor. I have witnessed countless acts of neighborly support in my community and city. I have also made more of an effort in self-care, and have taken time to focus on my own mental, emotional, and physical health. I am starting to notice that, like in Ruby’s sculpture, beauty can be found in life’s details, and after noticing that beauty, it will be hard to forget.
Brittany Eckstrom has been with the ICA since 2017 and holds the position of Assistant Manager of Visitor Services. In her spare time she enjoys practicing yoga and lives on a boat in Boston Harbor with her husband and their cat.
Friday Art Notes are personal reflections on works of art shown or in the permanent collection of the ICA, written by ICA staff, volunteers, and supporters. Read more