Hidden Treasure – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Hidden Treasure

A colorful and wonderfully interesting art display, consisting of digital images, intaglio prints and lithographs, is being exhibited in the hall leading to the Provost's Office in Coxe Hall. The work is that of Nick Ruth, assistant professor of art.

Ruth says the pieces on display are part of a body of work that address an abiding interest of his–how to make static images that just won't settle down.

“It would be an oversimplification to say that the work is about order and chaos, but it is in part about unstable points of view. As I work, I find myself returning again and again to imagery and visual effects that resist singular readings. Pattern and traditions of decoration help me make the work accessible, but it is my hope that once looking a viewer will find the image in tension with itself, and that the tension will be both pleasant and unsettling. For me, that tension relates to most of life's experiences, and it is in that way that I hope my work can hover between decoration and metaphor,” says Ruth.

For example Ruth says the smaller digi print on display, called “Barker's Delight” reminds him of a carnival atmosphere, artificial with lots of sky.

“I've also been trying to use titles that hint at something tenuous, perhaps in a theatrical way, like a carnival, or maybe in a more perceptual way, like something that can be looked at in more than one way (Kilter, as in off kilter, but not off). This is central to why I've been using cones in my work for a while. A cone is a simple shape, easy to repeat, and yet weirdly shaped enough to produce a lot of possible patterns,” he says.

Kilter I by Professor Nick RuthThe cone is also a variant on a triangle, but instead of being flat it has a strong capacity to convey volume. This is important because Ruth has been trying in his paintings and traditional prints to simultaneously make the pieces feel flat and spatial.

“Anyway, I'm about fed up with the damn things (cones) and am looking forward to being a little more loose in what I use in my images,” he said. “Maybe I'll throw in a cylinder one of these days!”

In September, Ruth had two prints selected for inclusion in the regional juried exhibition, “Imaging City,” at Gallery r, on view in Rochester. Jurors Nancy Greene, senior curator of Cornell's Herbert Johnson Museum in Ithaca, and David Kwasigroh, curator of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, Indiana, chose two of Ruth's large traditional intaglio prints.

In addition, Ruth has had his work exhibited at the Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester, the Little Gallery at Nazareth College, the Fine Arts Gallery at the State University College at Oneonta, the Handwerker Gallery of the Caroline Werner Gannett Center at Ithaca College, the Canalside Gallery in Seneca Falls, and more.

Ruth had two paintings selected by Howard N. Fox for inclusion in the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh and also had an intaglio print selected by printmaker Wayne Kimball for the national juried show “Hand Pulled Prints,” in San Antonio, Texas.

Ruth lives with his wife, Nissa Youngren, and son, Silas, in Rochester, where he also has a studio. Ruth joined the Colleges in 1995. He holds a bachelor's degree from Pomona College in California and a master's of fine arts from Southern Methodist University in Texas.