Brown Arts

Ruth Root | Untitled

Ruth Root 677
Photo courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery

Ruth Root

Untitled, 2017

  • Fabric, Plexiglas, enamel paint, and spray paint
  • 46 1/2" x 72"
  • Installed in Friedman Hall, 1st floor (rotates on view with artworks by Dave Cole, Karl Haendel, and Nina Katchadorian)

Ruth Root’s recent paintings expand the boundaries of the medium, combining elements of modernist abstraction—blocks of flat color that dominated her earlier paintings—with intriguingly shaped supports and areas of riotous colors and patterns.  The untitled piece in the public art collection is, like all her recent works, composed of two parts. The lower Plexiglas panel is shaped and then painted with black, grey and white acrylic and spray paint, while the flexible upper panel is covered with fabric of the artist’s own designs.  The fabric incorporates found imagery (notably a portrait of Ruth Ginsberg and a slice of pizza, both of which reoccur in other works) set against a pattern made up of images of Root’s own paintings, thus functioning as a mini retrospective of her recent work.  The panels are held together by large fabric tabs that extend from the upper panel, loop through slots in the bottom panel, and are held in place by industrial grommets. As noted by Wendy Vogel, “The strategy appears to implicitly critique gendered labor, with the cloth—coded with associations of maintenance, domesticity and traditional women’s work—literally holding up the paintings.”*

Ruth Root (b. 1967 Chicago, lives New York) graduated from Brown in 1990.  She received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993 and subsequently studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.  Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, in 2015, and at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, in 2019.   She was included in Greater New York, at PS1 in 2000, and in group exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Art, Columbus, the LA County Museum of Art, and the Seattle Art Museum, among others.

*“Ruth Root at Andrew Kreps,”Art in American, Sept 30, 2015.

Ruth Root at Andrew Kreps