My work expands upon my interests in geology, microbiology, marine science and the undercurrents that continually shape and reshape our world. These forces, from collision and separation to violent upheaval, can be powerful metaphors for the human experience and ebbs and flows of relationships. Through painting, sculpture, installation and public art, I gather inspiration from scientific data and maps, building layered spaces that shift in scale and perspective. The forms that pervade my work underlie fractal patterns found in nature. Juxtapositions emerge: micro and macro, expressive and restrained, organic and geometric, graphic and atmospheric, flat and spatial, handmade and mechanized, linear and solid. I am drawn to working on a large scale in order to create a an environment that can envelope the viewer.
I am passionate about the intersection of art and science, and the transforming power of art. Through integrating sonar maps and other data in collaboration with scientists and oceanographers, much of my recent work and upcoming projects focus on shedding light on a world hidden from view. It has become paramount for me to go out to sea and explore the ocean, collaborating with scientists on research vessels and in deep sea submersibles, creating work inspired by these experiences. My sculptural explorations incorporating light are a new space for me to explore dynamic and interactive concepts related to the deep sea and microscopic worlds. The visual experiences I create are meant to deepen one’s connection to unseen and fragile places in the spirit of fostering understanding, empathy and conservancy of our oceans in the face of climate change.
– Rebecca Rutstein, 2018
Artist and part ocean explorer, Rebecca Rutstein – whose work spans painting, sculpture, installation and public art – explores abstraction inspired by science, data and maps. With interests in geology, microbiology and marine science, Rutstein has been an artist in residence in Iceland, Hawaii, the Canadian Rockies, Washington’s San Juan Islands, California’s Santa Cruz Mountains and along the banks of the Gihon River in Vermont.
Most recently she has collaborated with scientists as an artist in residence on board research vessels sailing from the Galápagos Islands to California, Vietnam to Guam, and in Tahiti, working with sonar mapping data of the ocean floor and shedding light on a world hidden from view. Rutstein is slated for two more artist-at-sea expeditions in Fall 2018, first, off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in October with a science team from Temple University, and second, off Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to Guaymas Basin in November with the University of Georgia.
The latter expedition begins her year-long tenure as the Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding; an annual award given to leading global scholars and creative thinkers who conceive and produce ground breaking collaborative works with University of Georgia faculty, which will include a year-long exhibition of Rutstein’s work at the Georgia Museum of Art. During both expeditions, Rutstein will be making her first deep sea dives to the ocean floor aboard the acclaimed Alvin, a fully submersible vessel able to withstand the crushing pressure of the extremes of the deep ocean.
With over 25 solo exhibitions and 70 group exhibitions, Rutstein has exhibited widely in museums, institutions and galleries including solo exhibitions at the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks, Cornell University (NY), Exploratorium (CA), Philadelphia International Airport, Swarthmore College (PA) and Fleisher Art Memorial (PA). She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Percent for Art Commission with the City of Philadelphia, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, an Independence Foundation Fellowship and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grant. Rutstein’s work has been featured on NPR and in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and Vice Magazine. Her work can be also be found in public collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum, Temple University, Johns Hopkins Hospital & Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Rutstein holds a BFA from Cornell University (with abroad study in Rome) and an MFA from University of Pennsylvania. She has been a visiting artist at museums and universities across the US and enjoys speaking about the intersection of art and science.