Somewhere along the way, “millennial” became a dirty word, or at least a tainted one—shorthand for lethargy, entitlement and fecklessness. All the while, young female artists were getting to work. A Women’s Thing spoke to six millennial artists on coming of age at the turn of the century and their own stock-taking of their careers thus far.
Inspired by “space operas, pop culture, geometry and the setting sun,” Esther Ruiz’s objects splay the line between both distant and minimal and approachable and hypnotic. She received a BFA in Studio Art from Rhodes College in 2011 and has shown nationally and internationally at galleries including yours mine & ours gallery, New Release Gallery, Planthouse Gallery, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Platform Baltimore, Vox Populi, Field Projects, Fridman Gallery, Regina Rex, and The American Center for Physics. Ruiz was born in Houston, Texas, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn.
What would most impress a younger you about where you are today?
Esther Ruiz: I think a younger me would be impressed that I took the jump to major in studio art in college, move to New York and worked hard to call myself a sculptor.
Do you think about age at all? What about it, if at all?
Esther Ruiz: Yes. I don’t think anyone wants to be a struggling emerging artist in their 50s.
What about when you were born and raised has influenced your work?
Esther Ruiz: I think really lo-fi, DIY movie and TV sets of the 90s have been a big influence in my work. I find all of the behind-the-scenes footage in the making of Star Wars fascinating. I really like how most sci-fi films made in the late 80s and early 90s depicted far away and future landscapes.
Is there a moment that you point to as your big break or breakthrough?
Esther Ruiz: I had some really great press coverage during Bushwick Open Studios a few years ago, which was a really nice surprise. And I was in ArtNews Magazine recently and it felt as though I had reached a high point.
Is there something that makes your working style special?
Esther Ruiz: I sit on a basketball when I pour cement.
Do you have any advice for other young creators?
Esther Ruiz: While I think it’s most important to be in the studio, I also think it’s important to go to art openings and museum shows to stay tuned-in and relevant.
Where do you see your work going next?
Esther Ruiz: I somewhat recently began making neon and Plexiglas wall sculptures. I’ve been experimenting with various color combinations to push the material lately and develop new ideas. I’m excited to turn the wall works into freestanding pools or voids soon!
For more in this series, check out Art in the Age of Instagram: Alina Birkner.
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