From 18 September – 28 October, Song Song presents an exhibition of a series of six new works by San Francisco, CA based artist Ruth Laskey.
A few years ago, Ruth Laskey (b. 1975) came up against a difficult conundrum in her painting practice, she found she no longer “meant” her canvases. This is not to say, as it might sound, that she had a problem with Painting as such, nor is it to say that she no longer believed in her own paintings. What Laskey had become disconnected from was literally the canvas itself, the material support on which she worked.
Some time before this, the artist had begun to have concerns so serious about the composition of her works that she had learned to make her own paints, a consuming task the effect of which, though invisible to most viewers, was to satisfy Laskey’s intuition that she should conceive of her art from beginning to end, from ground mineral to image hanging on the wall, rather than stepping in halfway through this process as most painters do, squeezing their pigments from a tube bought at the art store. And as she had worked in this way, watching the most basic ingredients of a painting, unadulterated and pure, transformed into a finished object solely through the influence of the knowledge she had collected together with her inspiration, a pure and whole connection was forged with the paint that made that with the other materials involved appear humdrum and boring, even profane by comparison.
So, Laskey found herself as alienated from her canvas as is the serious cook from the frozen pie crust. Her solution was not an easy one, but once she had resolved herself to it there was no turning back: she bought a weaver’s loom and began to make her own canvases.
From this developed an unexpectedly beautiful and original technique in which the artist has worked exclusively in the past years, of weaving hand-dyed colors into linen canvas itself to produce pictures. In these, the imagery is derived from the structure of the weave, and there is never an attempt to exceed or dissemble the simple terms of the method, reinforcing the sense one gets in getting to know this artist’s work, that she is at least as concerned with what goes in to her art as she is with what comes out of it. The results are minimal and delicate, of an utterly self-understood beauty that transmits itself to us from a heretofore unseen plane.
Ruth Laskey was born in 1975 in San Luis Obispo, CA. She graduated from the California College of the Arts with a B.F.A. in 1999 and an M.F.A. in 2005 with degrees in Painting/Drawing. She has been included in group exhibitions at the Oakland Museum of California (2007), 871 Fine Arts, San Francisco (2007), Ratio 3 (2007) and Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland (2005). Her work was recently acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and she was the subject of an 'Openings' article in Artforum, February 2008. Laskey currently lives and works in San Francisco.