Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 24th
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Ruth Boerefijn

RuthboerefijnBoerefijin strings together creative beauty.

Boerefijn’s ‘connecting tissue’ at the Cabrillo Gallery is nearly indescribable—it’s beautiful and indeed airy—strings of aviary wire sculpted into a pattern, with delicate dangling objects attached that reflect light. Her piece at the MAH is also enormous in size, taking over an entire corner of a gallery room, with doorknob-shaped wire sculptures that connect and hang from the ceiling.

The reason for this vastly original medium of aviary wire? “What happened in my life is I was using corrugated cardboard wrapped in elastic,” Boerefijn says of her pre-aviary wire days. “Things [in my life] fell apart. My mother died, a divorce, the earthquake. It was important to have things that were transparent, to have truthfulness there and after years … I came up with these aviary wire cuplets.”

When asked where she considers herself in the assem-blage/collage/construction spectrum, Boerefijn says, “I consider myself site-specific. The Cabrillo College piece, my sense was a pathway to walk through that connects both [of the men’s] installations.”

Her work, while recognized as feminine by some, also has the structure and discipline of the masculine nature. Boerefijn says this quality comes from her upbringing in Calvinism, a set of doctrines found in some Christian groups. On the practical side, these doctrines tend to emphasize discipline, which in turn have influenced her artwork.

“I get up at 2:30 a.m. every day, take a run with the dog, come back, swim, then do work,” she says. “One can have talent and vision, but you have to push through and carry it through and take risks, even if you don’t have the money. That structure holds the space for anything that unfolds, or for something that makes no sense, to come about. I have the patience and structure to wait and understand my work.”

Boerefijn’s lifestyle is certainly captivating—and structured. Rising in the wee hours, exercising, working on her artwork and teaching art to children in Oakland, she lives a full life in an industrial area, inhabited by many working artists.

Her own foray into art happened in college, when she was out from under her Calvinist upbringing. “I went to Calvin College and was drawing a model who had to wear clothes. It was wrong. I transferred.” From there, she went on to study at Colorado State University where she achieved her bachelor of fine arts degree, and then attended graduate school at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland.

Her work has hung in notable galleries in San Francisco, Fresno and as far aways as Iceland and other locations. And while her work may be popular on the viewing circuit, she admittedly doesn’t sell her installations. “My work is not money-based,” she says. “Living in the textured area that I do (perhaps metaphorically, literally and artistically textured), it enables me to always feel rawness.”

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