Getting to know Elaine Rutherford and Rebecca Krinke

Getting to know Elaine Rutherford and Rebecca Krinke

In late December, just before installing their January 2013 show, Elaine and Rebecca sat down to answer questions posed to them by Roslaux members.


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Q: Why is art important?

ER: Art is a means of processing our human experience like poetry or music. It is a means of distilling everything from the most profound to the most mundane of experiences. It can enlighten, question, lift our soul, or demand that we look at those aspects of life that are among the most difficult.


RK: Elaine has given a beautiful response to this question. Making and experiencing art has the power to shift perceptions, create community, and to change us and develop us in unexpected ways. Art’s importance is also confirmed in many ways – for example, by the power of ancient cave paintings to profoundly move us in the 21st century – and the long history of saving and cherishing art objects that exists in virtually every culture.


Q: Why should people collect art?

ER: Why should people collect anything? Because they love it, because it touches them in some way, because it is beautiful. I mean my mum collects porcelain figurines. She has what seems like hundreds of them. They appear to breed. I would not say they are beautiful but she loves them. They have names. She likes to look at them; they make her feel good. Aquiring a new one makes her feel good.


RK: Collecting art is only one aspect of art. My work in large sculpture and installations is not readily collectible; the focus is on the encounter and experience each participant has with the objects and places. That being said, I am an inveterate collector of many different types of things, including art. I collect to feel the power of the object, to be inspired.


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E. Rutherford. Ce Que Vous CherchezMixed media (oil, wax, single channel video shelf and cabinet) R. Krinke. What Needs To Be Said? (detail)Mixed media participatory environment (wood, found objects, paper, mylar)


Q: What made you want to show together?

ER: I did not know Rebecca prior to joining Rosalux, but since she contacted me it has seemed almost inevitable that we should show together. Not only does our work share similar aesthetic sensibilities – we share similar conceptual interests. Further, unbeknownst to us, we have shared history. Through Rebecca I reconnected with an old mentor of mine from Scotland.


RK: I wanted to show with Elaine when I first saw her images as part of her Rosalux application. As she has said, it has been an excellent, and even serendipitous, fit.


Q: What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

RK: In art, of all things, don’t believe any rules.


ER: Try to make something ugly.


Q: How did you decide to become an artist?

RK: I have always been an artist. I loved drawing, mixing plaster, and making worlds in the sandbox. Art has always been the primary way I have explored and understood the world. I do know that I specifically went to art school to explore a new range of materials, techniques, and conversations that I couldn’t get on my own.


ER: I don’t recall deciding to become an artist. I always drew but then we all used to draw, that’s what we did in the olden days, before Facebook. I think maybe it’s just a way of navigating the world that we don’t necessarily choose. I am a bit stubborn and I do recall my dad saying, “Ah but Elaine, ye canny make any money daein that.” (Being an artist.) I think maybe that, and an old art teacher in high school who never ever praised my work made me dig my heels in. It is also a very important job, I think, whether you make money at it or not, it is important.


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E. Rutherford. An Elsewhere World,  Oil on panel R. Krinke. Encased (right) and Possession (left)Mixed media sculptures (wood, doors, paper, straw)


Q: What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

ER: My focus is shifting. My lens is perhaps becoming a bit more broadly focused. My content is shifting from a focus on what is lost through migration to how existing in the “in between” might possibly be an advantageous place to be.


RK: I feel I am expanding and synthesizing my themes of trauma and what can be said and not said. I am in the very, very beginning stages of a project called “Unspoken” that I see as an exploratory, multidisciplinary, probably long term project that could involve sculpture, installation, performance, writing, conversations, etc. with many artists and other disciplines involved…


Q: Who or what are your biggest influences?

RK: Two artists immediately come to mind: Louise Bourgeois and Walter De Maria. Bourgeois for her incredible work with memory and pain, both in her sculptural work with the body, and her room and cell installations. Not to mention her tenacity in making mind-blowing work right up to the end of her life at age 99. And De Maria for his work with danger, the sublime, and ritual: I am thinking here of his masterwork The Lightning Field.


ER: Music. I listen to a lot of music and I read a lot – all sorts of things, fictions, non-fiction. And film; I love film. I tend to be inspired, or moved by work that is a bit bleak, or dark or maybe real. I feel really transported by work that asks me to consider the darker side of life, but I am also transported by beauty.


Q: What are you doing when you are not making art?

ER: Teaching, reading, hanging out with my three kids.


RK: I am also a voracious reader – of blogs, novels, and non-fiction. I’m increasingly interested in performance – and find a lot of inspiration in attending classes and watching rehearsals and performances. I also make it a priority to always be on the lookout for new adventures; for example, I will be visiting Minnesota’s new salt cave in the new year.


Q: How do you get from the first spark of an idea to a finished work for exhibition? Where do your ideas come from?

ER: Everywhere. From lived experience. I realize that I am always making work about the same thing – it’s just that the lens shifts and the focus changes. So I read, I think, I write a lot. I talk to people, I take pictures, I paint, I play, work and rework. The road is rarely direct; in other words, there is most often a lot of reworking that occurs between the initial idea and the finished product.


RK: My ideas seem as if they have always been with me  – and I just continually find new ways to explore them through my art, and then the art itself shows me the next step. My work in the January show continues to explore secrets, clues, memories, adaptations, pain and beauty. And in the show, you will see some of my many, many black bound notebooks that I have kept since I was about 14. I write, draw, record events, and add articles to these notebooks. This process and these notebooks are key to my life and art. I am beginning to include them more overtly in my art – and I am processing what that means, or could mean.


Q: What do you feel you have accomplished with this newest body of work currently on exhibit at Rosalux?

ER: A great new friendship with Rebecca who is such an interdisciplinary thinker and artist. I am most inspired by research in other disciplines and how perhaps a writer, a geographer, a sociologist is considering the same idea as me. This is why I am so excited about the talk on the 26th when we will have two scholars from different disciplines discussing our work.


RK: Thanks Elaine! And back at you; I am very inspired by our dialogues. One of the joys of Rosalux is that we are a community of artists who show together and inspire each other.