Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ursula von Rydingsvard: from Childhood Planks...

In this time where news reports about war uprooting families to "refugee" status, I think about the artist Ursula von Rydingsvard (1942-). She was born during the time the Nazis controlled the area of Germany where she was born. Her father was conscripted into forced labor and her family lived in one refugee camp after another.

In 1950 at age 8, her family settled in the United States. However, she remembered her early years as a displaced person sleeping on planks in camps. As she stated, "It wasn't even a lumber construction. It was plank construction that wasn’t very warm in the winters because there was no insulation. It was just me, sleeping against a plank, and on the other side of the plank was the outdoors."

Von Rydingsvard would go on to graduate with an MFA from Columbia University Her works are on display at MOMA, Whitney Museum, National Gallery of Art, and many other most prestigious galleries and museums. She is also the recipient of many grants and fellowships.

Her sculptural works are monumental in size, scope and are mainly created from cedar planks glued into designs. Below are a few examples that barely reflect a 40-year career in the arts - all reflecting those memorable planks from her childhood. How can we ever know what experiences will inform the artist?

Von Rydingsvard was featured on PBS' wonderful series "Art 21." You can view it at:

1 comment:

  1. That's so interesting! I can imagine that she turned family trauma into conquering the material that informed her childhood. Love it!