Esther Ruiz is an interdisciplinary artist working in Brooklyn. Using concrete and neon tubes, she creates symmetrical sculptures that resemble intergalactic souvenirs. We sat down with Esther in her studio at the Williamsburgh Library where we discovered how her day job at a neon sign factory transformed her artistic practice. She seems to be everywhere recently, participating in both DIY artist-run galleries and established art institutions. In January, she participated in the exhibition, "The Lamp Show," curated by Zoe Alexander Fisher at 99¢ Plus Gallery. We are looking forward to her participation in Next Wave Art curated by Frances Holly, opening October 4th at BAM. Her work will be shown at our inaugural launch exhibition, "Volume 1: Looking fw to the Future," at Stream Gallery in June, 2016.
What attracts you most about working with neon and concrete and how did you get into working mainly with these materials?
I started working with neon by chance really, I started working at Lite Brite Neon in 2011, and since day one, I knew I'd someday use neon in my work. It made sense though, because I was already working with fluorescent plexiglass. And I started using concrete as soon as I moved to New York, not really sure why but I guess being surrounded by it in the city drew me to understand it more intimately. Five years later, I still find both neon and concrete fascinating. Neon blows my mind, electrified gas in a glass tube?! Just amazing. I like that it's relatively old technology but it has really changed, and everything is still all hand made!
How do you source your material?
I collect things that attract me, plastics, geodes, minerals, metals, trash, coins, toys etc. etc.
What artists would you want to collaborate with, if any? Which artists in your sphere are you looking at now?
I would love to collaborate with Jim Drain, Anne Vieux, Isamu Noguchi, Lee Ufan, James Turrell, Tom Sachs, Keith Sonnier. . .
I'm constantly looking at a lot of art. . . love Ian Cooper, Henry Gunderson, Alex Da Corte, Jayson Musson, Ann Greene Kelly. . .
What artists are you influenced by?
All of the above.
Describe your creative process.
Well, I'm sort of working on a few "bodies of work" at the moment and they all require different processes.
The smaller concrete/neon pieces come together by laying out all of the materials I accumulate and seeing what works together. Then I build disposable molds, pour the cement and sink the other materials.
What environments do you like to exhibit in (particularly in reference to light spaces)?
Well who doesn't love a clean, bright, white box, that's really my preference, to have control of a space and transform it. I'd also love to do more outdoor work in the future. . . maybe in the desert. . .
What projects are coming up for you?
Well, I have a solo show in Marfa, Texas this summer and a show at BAM in the fall. As well as a group show at Underdonk in Bushwick in May and another group show at the Islip Art Museum. It's been a very exciting year!
What music are you listening to right now?