NYC Dept of Parks & Recr Awards Ruth McKerrell The Clare Weiss Award
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is proud to announce Ruth McKerrell as the inaugural recipient of the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award. Three new works, Ancient, Goatie Boy and Goat as Wolf, will be exhibited in the entrance plaza to Fort Greene Park at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Washington Park from June 1, 2011 to June 2012. The $7,000 award will be granted annually in memory of Clare Weiss, Parks' Curator of Public Art from 2005 to 2009.
"Clare Weiss will long be remembered for her dedication to bringing beautiful works of art to New York City's public parks," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "We are thrilled to bring Ruth McKerrell's whimsical sculptures to Fort Greene Park as The Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award's inaugural exhibition. The display will act as a fitting tribute to Clare, who left an unparalleled creative legacy within the City's green spaces."
McKerrell's three sculptures, originally made of reclaimed Styrofoam, have been cast in aluminum, giving them a timeless presence reminiscent of traditional garden statuary. Two sprightly goats and an alert deer will animate this welcoming space. Attracted to the naiveté and purity of animals, McKerrell has focused on them in her recent drawings and sculptures. A native of Scotland, she frequented local farms as a child and even owned a pet goat, which inspired Goatie Boy. A regular visitor to the Central Park Children's Zoo, she creates studies from direct observations, as well as historical paintings, and anatomical reference books. However, her final works are made entirely from memory, working intuitively as she imbues her playful subjects with plasticity, life, and undeniable charm. McKerrell is attracted to the "freeness and rawness" of her modeling materials, which permit her to work spontaneously, and comments that they enable her to "create textured surfaces suggestive of an animal's tactile form."
Ruth McKerrell was born in 1983 in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Campbeltown, Scotland until the age of ten, when she moved with her family to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. She first studied art at Guernsey College before returning to Scotland to study at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee where she received a first class honors degree in Fine Art. She received The Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York Scholarship in 2006, which enabled her to study at New York Studio School, where she received her Master of Fine Art in 2008. McKerrell attended Vermont Studio Center in May 2009 and has shown work in various places including The Edinburgh Royal Scottish Academy Students' Exhibition and more recently in a juried exhibition by Ylva Rouse at 404 Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.
Clare Weiss (1966-2010) was the former Public Art Curator for Parks. During her tenure she curated more than 100 outdoor public art installations throughout the city and organized complex, thought-provoking, and visually compelling thematic exhibitions for the Arsenal Gallery. Clare's passion, humanity, energy, courage, and collaborative zeal were valued by all who knew her. The Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award will be granted annually to one emerging artist. The location will change annually, and will be determined based on the site's visibility and location within a neighborhood historically underserved by public art.
This year's inaugural exhibition was made possible through generous support by the friends of Clare Weiss and the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. McKerrell's work was selected from 37 entries by a jury comprised of curator and art critic Karen Wilkin, sculptor Willard Boepple, and Parks's Public Art Coordinator Jennifer Lantzas. For further information on how to contribute to the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Fund, please contact the Office of Public Art at (212) 360-8163.
Ruth McKerrell's trio of sculptures is the latest in a growing list of temporary public art exhibitions in Ft. Greene Park including Anne Peabody's Fallen Nest (2007), Wiktor Szostalo and Agnieszka Gradzik's Tree Huggers Project (2007), Julia Vogl's Leaves of Fort Greene (2009), and Daniel Goers and Jennifer Wong's Myrtle Avenue Bird Town (2010). Parks' public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks.