David RuthOakland, CA
Transparency and its embodiment through the use of glass has been my prism for lifting the veil on transcendence of everyday existence. I discovered the internal space of glass and transparent solids in childhood and have pursued the development of the idea that internal space equals the internal life of mankind throughout my career. My interest in public art is an extension of where that journey had led.
I started by making stained glass by using recycled bottles melted and rolled into sheets. I was amazed at the alchemy of the colors and how adding a few distilled parts of earth could make such an ethereal material that was hard like rock but yet could pass light or even filter it to get a particular pure tone. Glass has proven the medium for my personal expression and also a metaphor for the transcendence, mastery and particularly the fragility of civilization over the earth. My work after graduate school has been mostly sculptural in orientation, but at some point I became interested in the flat panel again, fused and polished rather than pieced together. The panels have a contemporary integrity and purity and are architectural in scale and design.
About five years ago, I received a grant from the National Science Foundation, Antarctic Artists and Writers Program for travel to Palmer Station, Antarctica for texture mold making for glass sculpture. Since then, my work has taken a more earth oriented and environmental turn with the creation of glass icebergs, perfect to contemplate the cost of our modern technological world and its devastation through the optic brilliance, color and mass of large-scale glass sculpture.
The extension to public art never loses sight of these qualities, vision and fragility. Working with diverse stakeholders in commissioned projects these values are extended for all to contemplate, see and be inspired by, as I was. Working in concert with project stakeholders and in combination with expert crafts workers, using the best of technology, computer controlled kiln firings, diamond polishing, and water-jet cutting with contemporary materials, cast glass, stainless steel, extruded aluminum window glazing, for instance, handmade glass with techniques derived from pre-common era discoveries, can make thrilling, contemporary and durable pubic art.
David Ruth is originally from Berkeley, California and currently has Glass Sculpture Studio in Oakland. He has traveled the world for his work. He first became interested in transparent materials as a child. That curiosity led him to study with Roger Darricarrere, who cast hot glass in Los Angeles starting in1953. After a period in the Northwest, working at a stained glass sheet-making start-up, he returned to Santa Cruz are to start his own studio with kilns and furnaces.
In 1983, Ruth returned to school with Marvin Lipofsky at California College of the Arts for a Masters Degree in glass. He moved to France, leading workshops and his own cast glass sculpture culminating in a solo show in Paris at Galerie Daniel Sarver in 1989. He returned to the Bay Area and set up his current studio in Oakland with a variety of kilns, furnaces and polishing equipment. Sculptural work followed and a few years after that, Ruth rediscovered glass panels, now made solid, with compatible colored glasses, polished to make artistic plate-style glass for architecture.
More innovations followed, including the use of Pyrex-type glasses and collaborations with metal workers for bases and settings.
In 2006, Ruth was awarded a National Science Foundation for the purpose of collecting rubber texture molds off glacier ice and stone for use in his cast glass. Since that time the work has taken an ecological direction with the production of glass icebergs. He has had numerous solo exhibitions and public commissions, both in the USA and abroad.