Ursula von Rydingsvard, Tak, 2015, cedar, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, gift of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with her little nothings (2000-2015)/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard, little nothings (2000-2015) "experiments" that she collects and finds inspirational, sometimes leading to large projects. Among these elements are roots, corn, "knitting with pig intestines," a hat worn by her father in Ukraine, stomachs of cows (aided in one, by mice), a cutting from her brother's hair when he was three, and in the lower left corner, portions of a costume she wore on her arms to a party "with the nails being consequential"/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, standing beside her Zakopane, 1987/photo by Patricia Leslie
photo by Patricia Leslie
March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with her Droga, 2009, cedar and graphite, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co/photo by Patricia Leslie
March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts/photo by Patricia Leslie
photo by Patricia Leslie
/photo by Patricia Leslie
Ursula von Rydingsvard on March 20, 2019 at the opening of her Contour of Feeling at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with her Collar with Dots, 2008, cedar and pigment, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong & Co/photo by Patricia Leslie
Compared to her favorite medium, cedar, Ursula von Rydingsvard is warm, vivacious and very much alive, adjectives which can also be applied to her cedar which is separated from its lifeblood, soil, when Ms. Rydingsvard works with it, enlivening it when she cuts, carves, slices, and glues it to fashion large-scale sculptures which can take a year to finish.
Cedar is Ms. Rydingsvard's lifeblood which she embues with her spirit and poetry to express her innermost feelings and emotions.
She makes art for many reasons, including:
To survive living and all of its implied layers.
To ease my high anxiety, to numb myself with the labor and the focus of building my work.Because it's a place to put my pain, my sadness.
Because there's a constant hope inside of me that this process will heal me, my family, and the world.Because it helps fight my inertia.
For several months the National Museum of Women in the Arts has been the home of 26 of Ms. Von Rydingsvard's sculptures, nine works on paper, and a wall display.
At the opening of the show, The Contour of Feeling, she led guests through a parade of her creations, large and sinuous, inviting observation and reflection upon her life which began in Deensen, Germany and continued in Poland where she, her five siblings, and parents lived in eight refugee camps over five years at the end of World War II.
After the war, the family was one of many rescued by the U.S. Marshall Plan and Catholic charities, which brought the family to the shores of the U.S. and helped it settle in Connecticut.
Art is a reflection of the lives of many artists, and Ms. Von Rydingsvard is no exception. From her subconscious and memories of life in the refugee camps and the wooden barracks, it is no surprise that she uses wood to sculpt and release experiences which have shaped her life.
I believe most artists want viewers to interpret art for what it represents and means to viewers, not what it represents and means to the creators, a sentiment shared by Ms. Von Rydingsvard.
On its web page, the museum quotes Mark Rosenthal, the guest curator and author of the exhibition catalogue who interviewed Ms. Von Rydingsvard:
Let it float and tell you what the piece needs to tell you, not what the curators are saying and not what the teachers are saying.
This is the her first solo exhibition in Washington and "the most ambitious" of her exhibitions to date, according to the museum. Her work is found in major museums throughout the U.S.
She received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Miami and a M.F.A. from Columbia University.
The show was organized by the Fabric Workshop and Museum.
Happy late Birthday to Ursula von Rydingsvard who turned 77 on July 26.
What: Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling
When: Closing Sunday, July 28, 2019. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and on Sundays, 12 - 5 p.m.
Where: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005
For more information: 202-783-5000 or visit nmwa.org.
Metro stations: Metro Center (exit at 13th Street and walk two blocks north) or walk a short distance from McPherson Square.