Opener 34: Ruby Sky Stiler—New Patterns

Exhibition features new relief paintings, site-specific line sculpture, and functional sculpture

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (January 19, 2021) — The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College is pleased to present Opener 34: Ruby Sky Stiler—New Patterns, a solo exhibition by artist Ruby Sky Stiler, including new relief paintings, site-specific line sculpture, and functional sculpture. The exhibition opens January 29 and runs through May 15; however, due to health and safety concerns at the start of the semester visitors for opening weekend will be limited to members of Skidmore’s on-campus community. The public can view the exhibition beginning February 3.

Stiler’s visual language spans time periods, art movements, and spatial dimensions. Her influences move between the art historical and deeply personal: from textbook images of Greco-Roman sculpture and Art Deco illustrations to contemporary textile patterns and iPhone photographs. Often, Stiler makes use of contemporary materials such as acrylic paint, paper, resin, and wood while visually referencing “classical” or “high art” materials like marble, terracotta, and steel. This weaving together of materials and hierarchies carries viewers between the present and the past—and times in between.

Central to her work is the figurative nude, with its complex history of objectification, gendered roles, and glaring omissions. Stiler has recently expanded her practice to include the subject of father and child in response to the dearth of depictions of men displaying emotional intimacy or being defined in relationship to their children—in stark contrast to the abundant images of mother and child throughout art history. In complicating and repositioning these gender stereotypes, Stiler creates images and models that recall past representations while also reflecting the ever-shifting expressions, expectations, and aspirations of contemporary culture.

Opener 34: Ruby Sky Stiler—New Patterns, a solo exhibition, incorporates the artist’s relief paintings into a sculptural mural alongside a monumental functional sculpture, Bathers, which occupies the gallery floor. Bathers evokes the bodies of water found in modernist paintings of nude figures bathing while also serving as a museum viewing bench. The sinuous blue structure encourages seated viewers to consider their own figure as part of the composition and the historical continuum.

On creating her site-specific mural for the Tang Teaching Museum, Stiler says: “In playing with ways to further extend my exploration of archetypes, spatially and conceptually, I’ve looked back to prehistoric painting, where hierarchical frameworks are rendered in line and pigment on the wall: the wall as ground, the wall as a continuum, the wall as a timeline, the wall as a site for reclamation. I’m employing the gallery walls to establish an encompassing figurative tableau that depicts life as a spherical line, connecting us to the past, present, and future. In one wall relief painting the female artist replaces the male painter’s aggrandizing self-portrait. In another the role of muse is occupied by a reclining male nude. In two distinct sections of the wall mural, a woman is literally and metaphorically holding up time—her arms stretched above her, in support and protest, bearing the weight of history while reclaiming the space as her own.”

Opener 34: Ruby Sky Stiler—New Patterns is a collaboration with Fairfield University Art Museum where a version of the exhibition, Ruby Sky Stiler: Group Relief, was on view from September 11 through December 19, 2020.

The exhibition is curated by Dayton Director Ian Berry in collaboration with the artist. Support for this exhibition was provided by Friends of the Tang. The exhibition is the thirty-fourth in the Tang’s Opener series, which surveys the work of emerging and mid-career artists in what is, for many, their first solo museum exhibition. Past Openers have surveyed the work of Sarah Cain, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Arturo Herrera, Carrie Moyer, Amy Sillman, Los Carpinteros, and Jeff Sonhouse. The Opener Series is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts, Ann Schapps Schaffer ’62 and Mel Schaffer, Beverly Beatson Grossman ’58, and Friends of the Tang.

Opener 34: Ruby Sky Stiler—New Patterns was originally scheduled to open to the public on Saturday, January 29; however, Skidmore College is prohibiting visitors to campus through Sunday, January 30, for the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff at the start of the semester. Members of the on-campus Skidmore community can view the exhibition beginning January 29. Member of the public can see the exhibition beginning February 3 through May 15, 2022. Museum hours are Thursdays noon to 9 pm, and Friday through Sunday from noon to 5 pm. For more information, please call the Visitors Services Desk at 518-580-8080 or visit https://tang.skidmore.edu.

On Thursday, February 24, at 6 pm, the artist will take part in the latest conversation in the Tang’s long-running Dunkerley Dialogues, which pairs artists with Skidmore College faculty and scholars from a wide variety of fields to spark new connections and understandings across disciplines for all participants. For this in-person event, Stiler will be in conversation with Skidmore College Associate Professor of Psychology Casey Schofield. The dialogues are made possible by a generous gift from Michele Dunkerley ’80.

About Ruby Sky Stiler

Ruby Sky Stiler (b. 1979) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Fairfield University Art Museum, Fairfield, CT: Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Locust Projects, Miami, FL; Saint-Gaudens Memorial Park, Cornish, NH; The Suburban, Oak Park, IL; and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, OR. She has been included in group exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY; The Berman Museum, PA; The Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, NY; Providence College Galleries, Providence, RI, among many others. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, and her MFA from Yale University, and is represented by Nicelle Beauchene Gallery. Stiler lives and works in Brooklyn.

About the Tang Teaching Museum

The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College is a pioneer of interdisciplinary exploration and learning. A cultural anchor of New York’s Capital Region, the Tang’s approach has become a model for university art museums across the country — with exhibition programs that bring together visual and performing arts with interdisciplinary ideas from history, economics, biology, dance, and physics, to name just a few. The Tang has one of the most rigorous faculty-engagement initiatives in the nation, and a robust publication and touring exhibition program that extends the museum’s reach far beyond its walls. The Tang Teaching Museum’s award-winning building, designed by architect Antoine Predock, serves as a visual metaphor for the convergence of art and ideas. Museum hours: Thursday to Sunday, Noon to 5pm, with extended hours until 9 pm Thursdays. For the latest visitor guidelines, please visit https://tang.skidmore.edu

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Pattern by Monica Andrews '19
Inspired by the exhibition 3-D Doings: The Imagist Object in Chicago Art, 1964-1980
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.