Rebecca Rutstein: Convergence

multi colored painting of geometric shapes

Rebecca Rutstein (B.F.A. '93), Bold as Love (2015).

Convergence is a survey of Philadelphia-based artist Rebecca Rutstein's (B.F.A. '93) recent work that explores geometric abstraction inspired by science, data, and maps. In 2015, Rutstein was invited to join scientists on the Nautilus exploration vessel for an expedition aimed at sea mapping the ocean floor from the Galápagos Islands to California. She returned to sea with the research vessel Falkor in 2016 to explore uncharted territory from Vietnam to Guam. While at sea and back in her studio, Rutstein has worked with high-resolution mapping data of the ocean floor collected by the ships' multibeam sonar technology.

For Rutstein, geologic forces — from gradual erosion to violent upheaval — are powerful metaphors for life experiences and the ebbs and flows of relationships. Her paintings become mappings where scale is shifted and obscured, articulating fractal patterns found in nature. Rutstein constructs spaces through juxtapositions — micro and macro, graphic and atmospheric, organic and geometric, positive and negative, and linear and solid. Her work explores tensions created by these polarities.

For nearly 20 years, Rutstein has completed site-specific art residencies in geologically dynamic environments including Iceland, Hawaii, the Canadian Rockies, and Vermont. Rutstein's interest in geology was initially sparked by a class she took at Cornell University, where she learned firsthand about Ithaca's exceptional exposure of sedimentary rocks carved by glacial and erosive forces.

Rutstein's work spans painting, installation, sculpture, and public art. She has exhibited widely in the U.S. and has received numerous grants including a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and an Independence Foundation Fellowship. Her work has been featured on NPR, Huffington Post, and Vice magazine and is part of public collections including Johns Hopkins Hospital, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Temple University. Rutstein holds a B.F.A. from Cornell University and an M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and is represented by Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia and Zane Bennett Contemporary/Form and Concept in Santa Fe.