Meet the Artist: Ruth Esserman
In Chicago, we are lucky to be surrounded by great works of art and those who create them. One such artist is Ruth Esserman. Esserman has been working here in Chicago for decades. As an artist and educator, she has been tackling the how we interact with architecture and how buildings manipulate the flow of our own lives. Next month she is having a retrospective at the Bridgeport Art Center and we couldn’t be more excited. Not often do we get to reflect with the artist amidst their long and prolific career. Thankfully, Esserman shares her images of construction, deconstruction, and how our bodies move within it. I was lucky enough to interview Ruth Esserman as she shared insight into her work and life.
How long have you been painting?
Perhaps from the womb on!!
You work in many different media- do you feel more comfortable with one media in particular or do you allow a project to dictate your tool?
Last number of years I have mostly been working with ink drawings–some mixed media.
How has teaching informed your practice?
As an artist, teaching and producing art are inter-related–one informs the other.
What are your feelings about Chicago? Have you always lived here?
Born and bred in Chicago and/or environs. Love it, but periodically also love to leave it!
Your work is quite detailed. Do you find the work/labor cathartic?
Can’t imagine living without working at something I love!
When looking at your recent work, I am reminded of Google maps street view. It is neither lifelike nor animated. What interests you in describing scenes of masses of people in this way?
Our world is quite extended…no real borders horizontally across space, or upward into the cosmic space! The surrounding deconstructed and reconstructed environment emphasizes the constant changes and energies surrounding us.
Your assemblage works feel mechanical. They are more than collages of joined materials but seem to move to music or method. Can you tell us more about these works?
It is said that architecture is frozen music. My work has a large architectural component. I often use drafting implements as drawing tools. My tool of choice now is a technical drawing pen, but humanistic elements are always present. My early work was primarily figurative. Its implications are still present in my drawings.
You have a show coming up at the Bridgeport Art Center. Did you get to pick the pieces in the show or was it curated?
I curate my own shows.
Among your list of many accomplishments, what job or event has had the most effect on your career?
Working as artist in residence with Sybil Shearer and her dance company was a unique and important period to me. All my work has been a great interactive and stimulating experience for me.
Having your show at the Bridgeport Art Center coming up, how do you feel seeing fence your older work and new works presented together?
The Bridgeport exhibit is a good opportunity to see how my concepts have evolved and how early statements might still be visible in some of the latest work. Life, time, and work are a gestalt. Each day and piece seems different, but somehow they all connect. We’re not always aware of the interconnections until we have a chance to step away and look back…as I can do in my current show.
For more information on her show at the Bridgeport Art Center, follow this link: