My current body of work explores the themes of genesis, growth, transformation, decay and death. I explore the ways in which these phenomena are inextricably linked and ultimately coexist in an endless cycle. While cycles of birth and death and the processes between them are the stuff of animate life and the basis for my visual metaphors, I am fundamentally interested in an analogous cycle in inner the inner life of man.
We are all familiar with the alchemist’s striving to transform the coarse (lead) into the fine (gold), but in the alchemist I see in another striving: the struggle of an individual to transform his lower nature into a higher nature. Concurrent with this struggle to evolve there is the opposite pull, the attraction to devolve.
Our religions and mythologies are filled with symbols of just this sort of struggle, both toward the finer as in angels, and toward the coarser as in satyrs and the Minotaur. This struggle is not some far away philosophy: it permeates all of our lives. Even as children we saw cartoon characters torn between the competing interests of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, an image with such resonance because all of us experience a simultaneous attraction to the higher and to the lower.
In my imagery I present zany, fantastic systems in which organic and inorganic entities are interconnected, and transformation is suggested by images of light, heat and irrigation. Images of life, flora and fauna, are represented in systems without beginning or end. Accordingly, life and death are not entirely in opposition, but are rather proximate and feed off and depend on each other.
Dichotomy, and the joining of opposing forces –such as male and female, angelic and diabolic, tragic and comic—has long been a theme in my work. It is my experience that the most compelling situations find their power in just this intractable dualism, which finds its resolution neither in affirmation nor in denial, but in a delicate balance that contains both.
— Ruth Waldman
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