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Cultivate Featured Artist: Rui Sha


The Cultivate Curatorial Board is excited to share the work of Rui Sha, an interdisciplinary conceptual artist based in Chicago, IL. Her work tests the veil between material and immaterial, and is comprised of both concrete objects and media-based mediums like video and audio.


Rui shares her work and process in our interview below.

Learn more about the Cultivate Featured artist series below.


Learn more about Rui on her:



Briefly describe your work or share your artist statement Rui Sha is an interdisciplinary artist, holds an MFA degree from the School of Art Institute of Chicago in Art & Technology Studies. Her works usually engage with videos and objects which are fabricated in wood, fabric, the sound of nature, etc. The natural materials that she is bringing in, become the carrier of emotional expression, rather than a construction frame. The objects which are formed by raw materials represent an infinite duration across time and space. Her artistic practices address the shift from physical objects to incorporeal tenderness — a performance about balancing, frame looms of ongoing small weavings, a kinetic sculpture of a cup barely dripping. Materiality is erased during the process of crafting, turning the objects into the portrayal of a specific time period and introducing the moment of personal experience where the sentiments lie. The viewers can experience the subtle feelings underneath the artworks from watching, listening, and sensing. In the course of viewing universal emotions are being evoked by the personal experience.


A cup is mounted precariously atop a repurposed railing post. The cup is balanced so that it intermittently lets just one drop escape from the vessel. The drops of water have formed a small puddle below the cup. The piece seems to meditate on its own, and its ruminations have provided a quick thought to the rest of us about the imperceptible processes of the material world.
"Occurrence of One Drip", objects, 2019

How do you go about beginning a new piece? Do you have it planned or is it more spontaneous?

It’s more spontaneous, because my work is heavily intertwined with mundane objects and events that I encounter everyday. Life is unpredictable, and so are the emotions you have when you’re experiencing it. I want to document this intangible moment when a sudden emotion strikes me — could be happiness, sadness, sense of loss, etc.



What is a barrier that you, as an artist, overcame?

When I’m working on a new piece, I tend to spend way too much time thinking about ideas and concepts. But the more I think, the less I do. And then I end up abandoning the new project. I’ve been trying to let my hand guide the process of creating, and it really helps a lot.


"Catching the Moonlight", objects, 2019


What is your go-to music when you're working on art?

I usually listen to dreamy ambient music and true crime podcasts.


"Catching the Moonlight", objects, 2019


What do you strive for as an artist? What form of recognition is important for you?

The process of making is also a way of curing myself. As a person dealing with mental health problems on and off for years, sometimes when I’m too deep in my thought, it’s really hard to get out of it. Moonlight, running water, a fallen leaf, etc. All those little things help me appreciate life and time. It’s also fulfilling for me if audiences find the act of viewing my works therapeutic.




What advice would you share for artists? Share something that you have learned along the way.

The process of making is also a way of curing myself. As a person dealing with mental health problems on and off for years, sometimes when I’m too deep in my thought, it’s really hard to get out of it. Moonlight, running water, a fallen leaf, etc. All those little things help me appreciate life and time. It’s also fulfilling for me if audiences find the act of viewing my works therapeutic.


A rectangular wooden frame is mounted to the wall, and between two of its sides (top and bottom) a mesh of threads are suspended. They cast a shadow on the wall which gently bows at its top. The shadow is organic in shape, while the threads and the frame are harsh and geometric.
"Where I Started", objects, 2018


What is a work of art that is an inspiration to you?

Experimental videos in the 60s, 70s got me into conceptual art.


Who are three working artists that you love and would recommend?

Bas Jan Ader, Do Ho Suh, and Joseph Beuys


Rui balances upon a set of ropes lashed between the wooden ends of a small stool-like object. She holds a pole above her, and from either end of the pole hang two strainers full of blue ink. Below the pole, Rui, and the stool, a blank white sheet is splattered with the ink slowly dripping from the strainers. It is Rui's balancing act, performed in various positions during the time of a given performance, which creates the splattered blue designs on the canvas below.
"Trace", object-based performance. Ink, objects, and Rui perform a balance which creates a "trace" of the artist's various balancing positions.


 

Cultivate Artists


A curated collection of emerging and midcareer artists. The featured artist program at Cultivate serves to share the artist's work and process with the community, inviting them to understand how and why an artist creates the work they do, to market and promote artists, and to connect artists to each other and to our network of curators, artists, and gallery owners.


These artists are curated together and represent the work that we exhibit at Cultivate. The artists are selected in January and June, and scheduled out for the six-month period. If you are interested in being one of Cultivate featured artists, please visit our open call for submissions.

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