Alumni Stories

Sterling Ruby

MFA 15 Art

Eight years after studying at ArtCenter, Sterling Ruby was proclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century,” with adjectives such as obstreperous, charred and mucousy to describe what he made. Often, the layers of color, materials and textures transcend anything else that can be found in real life.

Known for his versatility, Ruby works in a wide variety of media—ceramics, sculptures, canvases, fabrics, polyurethane, paintings, drawings, collages, photography and video. A driven artist who goes to work Monday through Friday, from nine to five, Ruby describes himself as manic and often juggles multiple projects at any given time, which is not surprising for someone so prolific. His commercial success has been phenomenal, and his two-acre Los Angeles studio has a 30,000-square-foot room just for studying finished pieces.

According to Foxy Production, his representation in New York, “He takes his subject matter from a wide range of sources, including marginalized societies, maximum security prisons, modernist architecture, artifacts and antiquities, graffiti, bodybuilders, the mechanisms of warfare, cults and cult members, and urban gangs.” His unconventional and charged aesthetic is demonstrated by his signature ceramic Basin Theology series, which resembles enormous glazed ashtrays holding detritus. Often, only those with a lot of money and room can collect his artwork due to their sheer size and weight (the clay can be up to 300 pounds, and the paintings up to 20 feet wide). Through a close collaboration with fashion designer Raf Simons, he has also helped launch a clothing line in 2014.

Ruby’s art has been exhibited in several dozen one-person exhibitions at art museums and galleries around the world—including London, Paris, Brussels, Tokyo, New York City, Rome, Athens, Stockholm, Geneva, Berlin and Seoul—and many more group exhibitions. His life and art have been covered by media from Time Out New York to The New York Times. His work is in the collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Dallas Contemporary; the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; the Seattle Art Museum; and private collections in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

In addition to his MFA from ArtCenter, Ruby graduated magna cum laude from the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and has a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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