Kick off SANDBOX with Kohl Gallery
The groundbreaking SANDBOX project at Washington College welcomes nationally known sculptor John Ruppert as its first Distinguished Visitor with a month-long exhibition of his work opening Friday, September 6, in the campus’s Kohl Gallery. A free public reception will honor the artist that Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the gallery.
Former chair of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park, John Ruppert has practiced his art for more than 40 years, always with a focus on nature and the nature of materials, from mud and metal to chain-link fabric and video. Working in a converted trolley-car barn near Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, he sculpts primarily in stone and metals—aluminum, bronze, copper, iron, zinc and prison-grade chain-link fencing. Ruppert describes his work as inspired by natural phenomena and man’s manipulation of nature. His well-known series “Pumpkins,” for example, is cast in aluminum with molds taken from a giant, genetically engineered pumpkin.
He has written that the visual relationship of his artworks to various other objects and to their surroundings is key to his vision. “More recently, as a way of working with the artifice of nature indoors, I have been juxtaposing castings with the chain-link fabric sculptures and introducing video as the light source,” he writes.
Ruppert’s work has been featured in more than 20 solo shows, including exhibitions at Baltimore’s C. Grimaldis Gallery and the former Franz Bader Gallery in Washington, D.C. He also has been part of dozens of group shows across the country and internationally and is in private collections in the U.S., Asia, Europe and South America. He received his bachelor’s degree in art and art education from Miami University in Ohio, and a master’s of fine arts at Rochester Institute of Technology. After a five-year stint at Webster University in St. Louis, he joined the University of Maryland faculty in 1987. Ruppert is a recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Pollack-Krasner Award, the Mary Sawyers Baker Award and several MSAC Individual Artist Awards.
Ruppert will be in residence at Washington College intermittently throughout the semester, working with students and faculty on SANDBOX projects. He will also be giving a talk about the progress of his work at a date yet to be announced.
Funded by a $575,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, SANDBOX is more formally known as “Sandbox: The Washington College Program for Creativity and the Environment.” The interdisciplinary program invites visual and performing artists to collaborate with scholars and professionals in the natural and social sciences to create works and develop courses focused on the environment.
Alex Castro, adjunct professor of studio art and the main creator of the Sandbox concept, says John Ruppert is a fitting choice to launch the visiting artist aspect of the program. “John is looking forward to engaging in our rural surroundings and working with the ecologically minded faculty, students, and community of Washington College and Chestertown to develop work that speaks of our natural structure,” he adds. “It will be a tremendous learning experience for our students and the community to have him spending so much time and creative energy with us.”
The Kohl Gallery is located on the first floor of the College’s Gibson Center for the Arts.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m. For more information on the gallery and on Sandbox, contact Sean Meade at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A back view “Sunken Grid with Strike”
“Pumpkins” a 1999 installation of