Inspired by data, “Shimmer” sculpture will stay at UGA
Since 2018, the wall sculpture âShimmerâ by Rebecca Rutstein welcomed visitors to Georgia Art Museum 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 The museum’s group of collectors came together to purchase 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, an important 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 of William Spratling, a designer and silver artist born in the United States. 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.
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,â said David Matheny, Collectors President. âI want to thank the Campaign Co-Chairs Cassie Bryant and Teresa Friedlander for their outstanding work in putting together the best ‘non-event’ event ever. And of course, we couldn’t have achieved our goal without the major gifts of Dudley Stevens and Judith Ellis, two of our most generous patrons. 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 UGA and Andreas Teske from 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 established by UGA Willson Center for the Humanities and the Arts through support from the Delta Air Lines Foundation which hosts outstanding global scholars, leading creative thinkers, artists and intellectuals who present global issues in a local context, with a focus on how the arts and the 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, Huffington Post, Vice Magazine, and New American Paintings and is in public, private, and corporate collections across the United States.