Rebecca Ripple in Oakland Press 2.13.17

New Cranbrook artist-in-residence brings experience to academy

With a hefty résumé of sculpture and teaching experience, Los Angeles artist Rebecca Ripple brings skills and insight as interim Artist-in-Residence for Cranbrook Academy’s Sculpture Department.

“I’m excited for the change — a change in environment sounds good,” Ripple says. “I haven’t been out of LA since I left graduate school in 1995, it will be a good shaking up of things that I know now as home and what my path is.”

After 25 years, former Artist-in-Residence Heather McGill is retiring. But Chris Scoates, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Director of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum, is confident Ripple will be the right fit for the one-year position, which she starts in September.

“We want to celebrate Heather moving on and are becoming very excited about the opportunities that Rebecca will bring in the coming year,” Scoates says. “She’s taught at incredibly prestigious art schools on the West Coast. She comes with a wealth of education, and is a great artist. It’s a wonderful opportunity — the chance to bring somebody new to town and expose our students to a great artist and great thinker.”

Originally from Long Island, Ripple has lived around the country, but has been teaching and creating art in Los Angeles since 1995.

While sculpture is her passion, it was not the field her family of engineers wanted her to pursue. She says that’s always fought, as they nudged her toward design or ceramic engineering. But she knew her passion was in sculpture and continued studying it.

“Their mindset is really different, I’ve always been fighting that battle of needing it,” Ripple says.

She studied ceramic art under Tony Hepburn at Alfred University, and graduate studies at Yale, working with clay in a way she describes as “untraditional.”

The language of what Ripple uses in her sculptures plays a big role in the end product. Materials are important in each piece she creates, and are used to give a conceptual message, triggering familiarities and other responses.

“(My art focuses on) the idea of being a singular mind in a crowded room and your trajectory in the world and how you interface in the world, whether with social media or out on the street, it’s quiet but everything around you is booming,” Ripple says.

“It is about reconciling the two things at once. It’s an existential question — how I exist in the world and how I make meaning.”

Ripple has been sharing her knowledge with students around the Los Angeles area for years, with teaching roles at California State University Northridge, University of California Riverside and the California Institute of Arts.

Ripple has also taken her work around the country and the world, exhibiting at places including the Los Angeles Museum of Art, The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art and Ludwig Drum Factory in Chicago, to name a few, with her works featured in Sculpture Magazine, Los Angeles Weekly, the Huffington Post, ArtScene, Artillery, the Chicago Tribune and American Craft.

Working in LA, she found herself surrounded by Cranbrook alumni and associates, and one of her colleagues suggested her for her new role at the academy.

While she enjoyed teaching undergraduates, she looks forward to sharing her knowledge with graduate students to deepen the conversation beyond core work into larger themes and perspectives.

“There’s a lot of joy also when somebody has that ‘a-ha’ moment, or the lightbulb goes off when you’re talking to them, they make a connection and you watch them find new avenues or watch them spread out further than you thought they would’ve,” Ripple says. “It’s really gratifying to be a part of that. It’s a beautiful thing.”

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