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Artist of the Month
October 2012

Artist of the Month

Ruth McCallum-Howell

Ruth McCallum-Howell draws inspiration from the random qualities of glass and its illuminative appearances. The inclusion of dichroic glass in her cast sculptures adds to the visual intensity and depth of the works, which explore the underlying chaos and eventual order of our lives. Ruth is represented by Kirra Galleries, Melbourne, Australia.

Click on each photo to the right for a full picture.

Ruth McCallum-Howell

Artist of the Month

Artist Statement:

A philosophical rhizome is an "image of thought" that apprehends multiplicities, based on the botanical rhizome that many are familiar with. The idea that a rhizome may be broken, damaged or destroyed in any part, and will start up again in one of its other parts and re-establish new connections, is crucial to our perception of non-linear space and how it is seen to operate. 

Non-linear aesthetic systems like the branching dichroic faces presented in the Rhizome Series are chaotic yet deterministic. Deterministic is defined by the same starting conditions producing the same end conditions; however, these aesthetic systems are always of interest because there will always be apparent unpredictability once the initial conditions vary only slightly. The chaotic fracturing and ruptures in the surface of the rhizome are part of what defines its structure.

The works in the Rhizome Series trace the rhizomatic connections that stem from form and shape, as well as the obvious self-similarity within the branching imagery itself. The rhizomatic behaviour of branching systems in this case relates directly to the Dichroic surface patterning and glass chemistry, while also acknowledging the formation and realization of visual connections and the role they play in germinating or becoming part of creative rhizomatic connections in the future.

About Ruth McCallum-Howell

Ruth McCallum-Howell was born in Australia, but spent the early years of her life in New Zealand. After returning to Australia at age 7, she completed high school and began training in the art direction and advertising field. Instead of pursuing this career, Ruth entered the world of glassmaking in 2002 and has not looked back. While completing her undergraduate degree at Monash University Victoria from 2002-2006, she was awarded the prestigious Sir John Monash Deans Scholarship for academic achievement, and completed her degree with First Class Honours.

Ruth spends part of her professional practice teaching within the community and professional fine art arena, and has also done some critical arts theory writing for various galleries and arts organizations within Australia.

Most of the work Ruth produces derives its inspiration and fascination from the relationships we all appear to share with our environment. If there exists an apparent underlying order within chaos, then at the same time there is chaos within apparent order. Ergo, if there is an art to science, then there is certainly a science to art production.

Many of Ruth’s artworks explore Chaos Theory, where naturally predetermined randomness within the glass medium is emergent, while also exploring the aesthetic results that arise from the competition and coexistence. The methodology employed in the creation of Ruth’s work allows for many different courses of events to take place, and yet each individual piece has its own order. It is as though the creation of this chaotic glass space has a set of rules relating to the composition and the interplay of its own logic; its own process and its environment. Therefore artistically Ruth’s gestural approach is not only necessary, but also vital for the production of non-linear patterns on the surfaces of her work. The aesthetic results of this are interlocking and repeating cycles, and competing systems vying for space.

Every non-linear process leads to branch points, to forks in the path at which the system may take one branch or another. Natural phenomena very rarely display linear function. They can most often be described by non-linear functions, which are characteristically chaotic, and rhizomatic in behaviour. The idea of the rhizome is a network of complex interrelationships of all things changing over time and space. This seems central to the emergent qualities of the post-modern condition and is embodied in the art Ruth creates.

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Acknowledgment of Gallery:
We are grateful to Kirra Galleries, Melbourne, Australia, for providing the materials for the Artist of the Month.

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The Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to further the development and appreciation of art made from glass.

The Alliance informs collectors, critics and curators by encouraging and supporting museum exhibitions, university glass departments and specialized teaching programs, regional collector groups, visits to private collections, and public seminars.