Huntsville, Ala – On Saturday, October 4, in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Women’s Guild of the Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA), HMA will unveil an exhibition of 21 large-scale, mixed-media sculptures by internationally-acclaimed, contemporary glass artist Ginny Ruffner. Aesthetic Engineering will explore Ruffner’s energetic and imaginative molding of blown glass, bronze, and stainless steel into whimsical, futuristic forms inspired by recent breakthroughs in genetics and bioengineering. The exhibition will run through January 18, 2015.
“The museum is honored and excited to be able to present the works of an internationally-recognized glass artist to the Tennessee Valley,” Christopher J. Madkour, the Museum’s Executive Director, said. “Ruffner’s sophisticated sculptures will complement the museum’s diverse American Studio Glass Collection.”
The Women’s Guild is the lead presenting sponsor for the exhibition. The Guild’s fundraising efforts were instrumental in making Ginny Ruffner: Aesthetic Engineering possible. “Huntsville’s proud tradition of technological innovation provides the perfect backdrop for Aesthetic Engineering,” Suzanne Barnes, president of the Women’s Guild, said. “Ginny Ruffner’s elegant, evocative artworks are the product of the artist’s own creative and futuristic exercises in glassblowing and metalworking,” she added.
Ruffner was born in Atlanta and raised in South Carolina. She received her master of fine arts degree from the University of Georgia in 1975. In the early 1980s, Ruffner moved to Seattle and began working in glass, practicing the longstanding technique of lampworking, which involves the manipulation of rods of glass over an open flame. By the early 1990s, Ruffner had reached a high level of fame in her field, a feat difficult for most women artists, for her colorful and fanciful tabletop glass sculptures.
Tragically in 1991, Ruffner was involved in a near-fatal car accident that threatened to end not only her career, but also her life. She suffered major head injuries that left her in critical condition and in a coma for five weeks. Ruffner spent years in therapy and eventually relearned how to walk and talk, defying a prognosis from doctors that she would never be able to do either again. She was also back in the studio three years later doing what she loved…creating art.
Ruffner’s art may be found in numerous major private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. Her life and work are the subjects of the film “A Not So Still Life,” which premiered at the Seattle Film Festival in 2010 and won in the Best Documentary category. Ruffner is also the recipient of many awards, including the Libensky Award from the Pilchuck Glass School, an Honorary Lifetime Achievement award from the Glass Art Society, and a Visual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Women’s Guild will host “Leaves of Glass: An Autumn Celebration,” consisting of three events over three days, to kickoff this exhibit and serve as their FY2014-15 fundraisers for HMA. On Wednesday, October 1, there will be a docent tour of the exhibition at 10:30 a.m. followed by a social at 11 a.m. Ruffner and Museum Director of Curatorial Affairs Peter Baldaia will follow as the guest speakers during a luncheon from 11:30 to 12:30 p.m.
On Thursday, October 2, the Guild and HMA will host the Exhibit Premiere and Cocktail Party, celebrating the bounty of the Pacific Northwest with artfully-paired food, wine and beer, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet the artist during this event. On Friday, October 3, the Guild will host a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. and a black tie Bacchus Dinner at 7 p.m. featuring a menu by Chef James Boyce of Cotton Row.
Tickets for each event can be purchased online at www.hsvmuseum.org. Diamond-level Sponsors of the exhibition are Dorothy Davidson, the Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. George Thacker. For a complete listing of all sponsors, hours of operation, and admission, visit www.hsvmuseum.org.