Scott McDowell in his article about leadership, "Shut Up and Listen (And Other Advice for First-Time Leaders)." From 99u.
As a graduate student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in the mid-’00s, Sterling Ruby was introduced to the work of French postmodernist Jean Baudrillard, a theorist who suggested a future reality comprised of copies and imitations, one in which artistic gestures were unavoidably insincere and always pre-conditioned. Ruby took this to mean that artmaking could no longer be innate: it was bound to a history that was at its best a crutch and its worst a stifling prison.
This lamentation led Ruby to create the body of work that would be known as SUPERMAX, named after the high-security federal prison system that quarantines rather than corrects its inmates. At the center of three exhibitions, including a residency at MOCA Pacific Design Center in 2008, were urethane drip sculptures that Paul Schimmel would identify as "three-dimensional Jackson Pollock… caught in the action."
Better known as stalagmites, these massive sculptures represent the gesture of abstract expressionism trapped by its historical successor in minimalism, a movement that to Ruby was a symbol of authoritarian repression. As defined by Robert Morris, minimalism demanded an unalterable shape; Ruby made his sculptures liquid-looking and malleable. If minimalism’s virtue was its “publicness,” Ruby would vandalize his faux-monuments with tags and graffiti.
Ruby continued to construct these enormous urethane works for another five years. As the body of work came to a close, MOCAtv visited him in his Vernon, California studio complex for an exclusive look at his process.
Glenn Ligon (via parkavenuearmory)
Sterling Ruby first exhibited his monumental urethane sculptures as part of MOCA Focus: Sterling Ruby, SUPERMAX 2008, an energetic show of painting, collage and sculpture. MOCAtv visits the artist in his studio for an exclusive look into his process.
Born in 1972, on Bitburg Air Base, Germany, and raised in rural Pennsylvania, Ruby moved to Los Angeles to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Plunging into the damp basements and tagged streets of contemporary America, Ruby transforms iconographies of industriousness and virtuous craft into masochistic lamentations. Ruby vilifies the artistic gesture as a conditioned response, bound to a history that is, to him, at its best a crutch and at its worst a stifling prison.
For the first time, film crews visit Ruby in his Vernon, California studio complex as he works with a team of assistants to create his famed urethane works. Where once was the ecstatic solo dance of Jackson Pollock is now the clandestine construction in the studio with Sterling Ruby as its fastidious foreman. The comparison to a laboratory, be it scientific or street drug, is altogether welcome.
Zhang Huan - 1/2, 1998, Beijing, China
"In his three-photograph series 1/2 (1998), Zhang Huan likewise proceeds dualistically, opposing body and mind, while perfectly aware that they interact and interdepend. Lacking all clews such as clothing, haircut or other temporally determined- hence decipherable- codes, it is impossible to order the photographs. The first in particular, for which the artist asked a row of friends to write whatever words came into their heads on his body in black ink, is unintelligible if one can read no Chinese characters- the image simply eludes interpretation. The letters ABC and the word "freestar" on the artist’s right arm constitute an insignificant exception, but these few legible signs merely serve to underline the foreignness of the rest. Exhibited in a Western context, such works are exotic, because the culture literally inscribed onto Zhang Huan’s body is translocated, decontextualised and reinterpeted. Misunderstanding or incomprehension inevitably result. The point is, however, that while the work opposes current views on art in its country of origin it is not exotic. The process of decontextualisation, and the altered conditions of the work’s reception, are what exoticise it." ["Seeds of Hamburg" by Yilmaz Dziewior]
… but around me, the preference for light skin prevailed. To the beholders that I thought mattered, I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me, ‘you can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.’ And these words played and bothered me, I didn’t understand them until I finally realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire, or consume - it was something I just had to be.
And what my mother meant when she said ‘you can’t eat beauty,’ is that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What actually sustains us, what is fundamentally beautiful, is compassion - for yourself and for those around you."
Lupita Nyong’o at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon
I implore everyone and anyone to watch this snippet of her speech. She’s incredible.
And another instance where media and visibility most definitely matter.