McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, Bldg. 46
The studio of Ursula von Rydingsvard is a constant hum of activity and inquiry. Each new work continues and confirms a depth and persistence of process – and presents new directions and challenges. Paradoxically both tempestuous and contemplative, the artist, clothed in protective gear, quietly draws exquisite wandering lines on pieces of cedar that are assembled to make stable forms whose exposed surfaces are scored and lacerated in a cacophony of the screeching blades of circular saws. Each new work builds on her precedents, yet reveals in its process of becoming an enduring commitment to emergent and often difficult new ideas and directions. Often beginning with the conformities of milled, “ready-made” cedar beams, new and unprecedented variables are coordinated in a wildly persistent yet inherently searching process. Her unconventional methodology was not taught and has been discovered and honed through a deep, intuitive intelligence formed through experience, observation, repetition, inquiry, and concentration.
Partricia C. Phillips
Excerpted from an extended essay on Von Rydingsvard and SCIENTIA. Patricia C Phillips is the author of “Ursusla von Rydingsvard: Working” (New York: Prestel, 2011), has curated major exhibitons nationally, and is the Academic Dean of Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.
About the Artist
For over 30 years, Ursula von Rydingsvard (b. Deensen, Germany) has been making monumental sculptures that reveal the trace of the human hand and resemble objects and environments that echo the artist’s family heritage in
pre-industrial Poland. The artist’s childhood was marked by the strain of living in eight different refugee camps over the course of five years, her earliest recollections―of displacement and subsistence through humble
means―infuse her work with emotional potency. Von Rydingsvard has built towering cedar structures, creating intricate networks of individual beams, shaped by sharp and lyrical cuts and fused together to form rich, dynamic
surfaces. While abstract at its core, von Rydingsvard’s work takes visual cues from the landscape, the human body, and utilitarian objects―such as the artist’s collection of household vessels―and demonstrates an interest in the
point where the man-made meets nature.
Von Rydingsvard has received many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center (2014); the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (2011); membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters
(2008); fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1983) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1979, 1986); and exhibition prizes from the International Association of Art Critics (1992, 2000, 2011). Major exhibitions include the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice (2015); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, UK (2014); Sculpture Center, Queens, New York (2011); Madison Square Park, New York (2006); and Storm King Art Center (1992). Her works are in the permanent collections of numerous museums nationally and internationally. Von Rydingsvard lives and works in New York. She received an MFA from Columbia University (1975) and was an Assistant Professor at Yale University (1982-1986).
About the Commission
SCIENTIA is a gift commissioned by Lore Harp McGovern, co-founder of the McGovern Institute and a member of the Council for the Arts at MIT. “SCIENTIA represents that art and science are not separate entities,” says McGovern, “Art defines our humanity, advances our curiosity and forces us to ask big questions—questions the McGovern Institute for Brain Research is trying to answer. SCIENTIA invites you in.”
25’ x 12’ 6” x 10’
A gift commissioned by Lore Harp McGovern for the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and MIT’s Public Art Collection