APRIL - MAY 2018
Since 1980 my work, primarily, has been based on a fictional figurative imagery set in elusive interior, or at times exterior, spaces. I have completed over 300 paintings and drawings on this motif, all in traditional media. I continue to find the subject compelling, and drawing and painting my essential means of exploration. Neither of these choices has been made without question or without awareness of the multiplicity of options open to artists today. I see the limitations of painting--unique, handmade, static and silent--as affording the contemplative experience in its making and in its effect central to my commitment to the art. In a culture overrun with human images in all types of media, to attempt to give significance to the drawn or painted figure may be daunting. Yet a figurative art that has the potential of both drawing upon and revealing the interior life of its audience can involve contemporary existence in a meaningful way. My work has this potential.
The figurative images and the spaces they inhabit are not preconceived, but revealed through a long, probing process. A method that begins with no specific image in mind is fundamental. The pose and gestures are subtle, action is minimal, nothing dramatic is happening. The scenario is provocatively blank, its significance merely implied, dependent upon the perceived inner life of the players. Multiple and contradictory readings are possible. When a work is fully realized, the physical and psychological presence of the fictional personae is convincing and the space they inhabit is suggestive of an interval of time and a unique place.
The perception of suspended time is integral to the work. A perception of pervasive silence (a comment often made about exhibitions of my work) is a hallmark of this experience of suspended time. Art that transmits this sensation to the viewer can elicit a flood of responses. The narrative occurs within the mind, often with a complexity--and specificity--that belies the simplicity or elusiveness of the image. The interplay of the motif, medium, and process is integral to revealing the underlying subject of my work: the poetics of pictorial time and memory, a mystery inherent in the tradition of painting that remains compelling and relevant.
Eleanor Rufty earned a BFA from Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) in 1958. Since that time she has maintained a studio and has been seriously engaged as a painter. Her exhibition record consists of nineteen solo and over fifty-five group exhibitions, mainly in the Mid-Atlantic area, but including several national and two international shows. Rufty was awarded a Mid-Atlantic/NEA Fellowship in 1994, was chosen Virginia Artist of the Year by the Richmond Women’s Caucus For Art in 1995, received the Theresa Pollak Prize For Excellence In The Arts in 2002, a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship and the Sweet Briar Fellowship for The Creative Retreat at Mt. San Angelo, Sweetbriar, Virginia in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Rufty’s drawings formed the covers for two literary magazines: the New Virginia Review, 1992 and The Washington Square Review, 2000 and her painting “…it is seldom…” became the cover of the book, Without A Philosophy by poet, Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, published February, 2006.
In 2004, assisted by printmaker Kris Iden, she was invited to create an etching, “…a single file of minutes.”, to benefit FOSS, A Virginia Museum of Fine Arts support organization.
Since 1985, she has designed costumes for dance in collaboration with choreographers, Chris Burnside (in the Richmond Area) and Laura Schandelmeier (in the New York and Washington, DC areas). She taught classes in painting and drawing at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Studio School from 1973 to 2007.
Rufty’s paintings and drawings are included in nine public/corporate art collections and numerous private collections, including those of many artists, novelists and poets.