September 15, 2020
Since 2018, Rebecca Rutstein’s âShimmerâ wall sculpture has welcomed visitors to the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia. It was a popular selfie spot as well as a real-world example of how science and art can work together to reach new audiences, but the work only belonged to the museum’s collection recently, when the group of museum collectors came together to buy it for the permanent collection.
Collectors are a group of museums focused on collecting, providing expertise and helping to build the museum’s permanent collection through acquisitions. Since its inception 20 years ago, the group has raised more than $ 425,000 for acquisitions, enabling the purchase of 116 works of art for the permanent collection, including âMinnehahaâ, a major work by Edmonia Lewis, an American sculptor who was the first woman of An African-American and Native American heritage to achieve international fame and recognition as a sculptor in the fine art world; “The Kitten”, by Thomas Waterman Wood, an American painter who was a esteemed member of the National Academy of Design; and an iconic pie server from William Spratling, an American-born silver designer and artist. In addition to supporting the museum’s mission, collectors are passionate about traveling to see works of art in private homes and museums locally, regionally and abroad.
Rather than having their biennial fundraising event last spring, the group had already decided to focus on a mail and email campaign to add Rutstein’s sculpture to the museum’s permanent collection. They launched the campaign in late 2019, before COVID-19 was on most radar, and concluded it in early April 2020.
David Matheny, President of Collectors, said: âWe are both delighted and proud that collectors have faithfully stepped up to raise the necessary funds to purchase ‘Shimmer’ for the museum’s permanent collection. I want to thank the Campaign Co-Chairs Cassie Bryant and Teresa Friedlander for their outstanding work in putting together the best ânon-eventâ event ever. And of course, we couldn’t have achieved our goal without major gifts from Dudley Stevens and Judith Ellis, two of our most generous patrons of the museum. It never ceases to amaze me how many supporters give their time and resources to ensure that the Georgia Museum of Art continues to serve the State of Georgia and the University of Georgia community with the best. museum possible. We are really lucky to have so many patrons who care so much about the arts! “
Rutstein is both an award-winning artist and an ocean explorer. In 2018, she served as the UGA’s Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding, embarking on an expedition / artist residency on the high seas with a team of scientists led by Samantha Joye from the University of Georgia and Andreas Teske of the University of North Carolina. As scientists studied hydrothermal vents and the unique carbon cycle processes occurring in Mexico’s Guaymas Basin in the Sea of ââCortez, Rutstein set up his studio on the ship and created new works inspired by the data that the group was collecting.
âShimmerâ was commissioned as part of his tenure as visiting Delta president; Spanning 64 feet, the steel sculpture contains hexagonal sculptural shapes and responsive LED lights that create trails mimicking the viewer’s movements. Its shapes are inspired by data that Joye has previously collected on the hydrocarbon structures and bioluminescence present in the Guaymas basin.
The Delta Visiting Chair is an annual position created by the UGA’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts with support from the Delta Air Lines Foundation which welcomes outstanding global scholars, leading creative thinkers, artists and intellectuals. that present global issues in a local context, with an emphasis on how the arts and humanities can inform conversations about major contemporary issues.
Since graduating with her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997, Rutstein has exhibited her paintings, installations, public art, and sculpture widely across the United States. With works inspired by geology, microbiology and marine sciences, she has had over 25 solo exhibitions at places such as Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art (Kansas City, Missouri), California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks, John Hartell Gallery (Ithaca, New York), Zane Bennett Contemporary Art (Santa Fe, New Mexico) and the Bridgette Mayer Gallery (Philadelphia).
Rutstein’s additional awards include a Percent Commission for Art with Temple University, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, an Independence Foundation Fellowship, and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship. His work has been featured on NPR and in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, The Vice Magazine, and New American Paintings and is in public, private, and corporate collections across the United States.
Partial support for Georgia Museum of Art exhibitions and programs is provided by the Georgia Council for the Arts through Georgia General Assembly appropriations. The Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals, foundations and businesses provide additional support to museums through their donations to the University of Georgia Foundation.
The Georgia Museum of Art is located in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the east campus of the University of Georgia. The address is 90 Carlton Street, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-1502.
This press release was produced by Georgia Art Museum. The opinions expressed are those of the author.