John Ruppert was born in 1951 in Winchester, Massachusetts. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts and Art Education from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and his Master of Fine Arts from the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York. Ruppert currently lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. He is chairman of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park.
In this artist’s work, our surety about the natural order of things, and our place in it, are repeatedly questioned. Operating in a symbolic register, his aesthetic and phenomenological concerns are evidenced in references to organic forms such as pumpkins and gourds. Ruppert’s Pumpkin series, based on a 700-pound pumpkin that he has cast repeatedly, both asserts and defies natural principles. By replacing the pumpkin’s organic shell with industrial materials, he keeps these forms frozen in time,impervious to the effects of gravity, decay, and regeneration. Moreover, his placement of multiple casts at specific sites sets up surreal narratives among identical inanimate objects.
His chain-link vessels operate in a similar oscillation. In their transparency and materials, they evoke artificial boundaries (fences) that are affected by location and orientation,changing with their physical environments. The webbing of these vessels creates an intricately patterned cast shadow. Thereby, the environment plays a significant role in the presentation and interpretation of the sculptural object. In this manner, he successfully contrasts opposed aesthetic and conceptual qualities.
“Natural phenomena play a major role in my sculpture,” Ruppert explains, “making process an integral part of its content. I use a variety of cast metals and chain-link fabric to work out my investigation into the relationship of sculptural form and perception.” His vessels, gourds and pumpkins are transformed by scale and materials into forms that hover between the natural and industrial worlds.
John Ruppert has exhibited internationally in numerous solo exhibitions, and his work has frequented important group shows throughout the world. He is the recipient of many awards including two U.S. Department of State Assistance Awards sponsored by the U.S.Embassy, a Juror’s Award at Baltimore’s Art Scape, as well as several Individual Artist Grants from the Maryland State Arts Council. Commissions he has been awarded include works for the New International Terminal at the Baltimore/Washington Airport, The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore,and the Xerox Corporation in Rochester, New York. Reviews of his work have been published in Art in America, Sculpture, and the New Art Examiner.