Studio Proof: "Bound" exemplified by forthright reflection on complex ideas

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For those heading down to the Nelsonville Music Festival this weekend — or if you just feel like taking a short road trip to see fascinating art — check out the exhibit “Bound” at Paper Circle (35 W. Columbus St., Nelsonville) by local mixed-media and performance artist Ruth Burke.

Burke has been exhibiting some wildly imaginative pieces over the last couple years, and her solo show includes a couple of those, but mainly it’s a collection of her newest work. For “Bound,” Burke created a number of uncannily spectacular three-dimensional pieces using found objects — usually with a connection to nature — and employed a meditative approach during their creation.

“How do we connect through artwork and object … to these materials? We rely on all these materials [to survive], and I’m asking the audience to take a moment of reflection and question the importance in the small components of these things. I’m calling on this aspect of life that things don’t need to be complicated and loud; encouraging these quiet moments of reflection and you’re very present in the moment.”

It’s obvious that process is imperative to Burke’s art — and has resulted in some extraordinary pieces like “Sea Hedgehog” (pictured) — and that’s true of her performance “Disease (4,320 steps)” and its documentation through installation.

Burke traversed 4,320 steps — in reference to (sage) Joseph Campbell’s theories on the importance of the number 432, and its Fibonacci-like repetition among many diverse cultures and mythologies — over a nine-foot (4+3+2=9) piece of paper covered in coal. Done at the site of the 1930 Millfield Mine Disaster near Nelsonville, it’s referencing humanity’s complicated relationship with nature, especially fossil fuels.

Burke documents her “intense” two-hour performance with photography (by Rebecca Copper) and coal piled upon the nine-foot paper. It’s a powerful and complex presentation, indicative of much of the work in the exhibit.

“Bound” is up through June 27 with a reception on the 26th. Burke will be at the gallery 5-9 p.m. Friday, May 29 if you’d like to speak with her about the exhibit. You will.

[photo credit: Ruth Burke]