When I was little I considered myself to be a celebrated female artist. Drawings of small, misshapen horses with suns in the corner were often hung on the side of the refrigerator, borderline pressed against the neighboring wall. Though my kindergarten self was made to believe that my art was featured on the side rather than the front because the front was not magnetic, that proved to be false, as did my impression of my artistic ability.
Ruby Sky Stiler is a truly celebrated artist. Stiler is a New York artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale University School of Art. Her work has commonly featured the female figure, as well as images of women in general.
Recognition of female artists and perspectives that have shaped female perception is significant, especially coinciding with milestones. The Ruby Sky Stiler Group Relief Exhibition in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts’s Walsh Gallery celebrates a female artist in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of women being accepted as undergraduate students at Fairfield University.
Stiler depicts different shapes of women, the many forms they take and roles they play. “No Title (Warm Gemstones Bust)” depicts a woman, waist-up, configured by pieces of different designs. She is a mosaic of shapes and soft colors, contrasted against black-and-white noise. “No Title (Seated Figure Facing Pot),” an acrylic painting, is an image of a woman at rest. She is seen without a child in frame, and within the shapes and colors that make up her image are sketches and notes. Her body encompasses ideas. Her beauty is not seen solely in her motherhood. This is also felt in “Blue Bather,” a “viewing bench” of Baltic birch plywood. The subject lies comfortably, as much a part of the bench as the common viewer.
Stiler’s work is influenced by Greco-Roman antiquity, Art Deco and abstraction. Despite bases in ancient visual language and symbolism, her work pushes modern understandings of relationship and emotion. Stiler’s art is one with intimacy and familial connection. The exhibit’s depiction of father and son reshapes former depictions of fatherhood.
Three of the works focus on “father and child:” a painting, a bench sculpture and a line sculpture. Each piece depicts a father and child interacting in a relaxed state, like Stiler’s depictions of female subjects. However, unique depictions of a comfortable domestic patriarch enhance the idea of the shapes women and men can take.
“The theme of mother and child is well known to us across the history of art, but there are almost no examples or depictions of father and child, especially ones that show an emotional connection and closeness between the figures, as we see in Stiler’s work,” said Carey Weber, director of the Fairfield University Art Museum.
The roles women play are as important as the representation of women in art forms. Ideas of domestic equality allow women to take on more independent pursuits, and therefore depictions of men in art can actually advance the women’s equality movement. Life reflects art.
Depictions of women in various styles, as well as their male counterparts embracing intimacy, have an impact on images we create in our personal lives. Regardless of our artistic status, we all make up images in the minds of others, or physical images hung on the fridge. Ruby Sky Stiler’s art is an example of work that can influence what images we create of ourselves and what we can see in others.
Happy 50th anniversary to the women at Fairfield, may you take whatever image you please.