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CENTRAL BOOKING Magazine, March 2013

An Interview with Donna Ruff

CB: Is there importance in the specific shapes that you use when you burn or cut? They resemble shapes in decorative windows, maybe stained glass from religious spaces?DR: The shapes are based on geometry, and there can be a spiritual aspect to them but there are also quite mundane forms that inspire me; for instance, the patterns that you see of irrigated crops when you fly over farms in this part of the country. I’ve written that I’m inspired by things as common as phone book pages- I think since I was a designer and book illustrator for a long time I am used to seeing how pages are laid out and how this impacts our comprehension of them. The rosette shape and the six pointed star- you see this in Islamic buildings but also in Jewish synagogues. Both religions forbid the use of figurative representation and have their bases in similar narratives, and both revere the book and writing. When I was a kid being sent off to Hebrew school, I remember staring at all the Hebrew letters and wondering what on earth they meant. It’s probably another reason I got interested in shapes and comprehension of them.

CB: The shadow of the burnt hole lends more tonality and nuance, almost inverts the negative space, making those holes pop forward, lending them an almost sculptural feel.

DR: Yes, I like my work to skirt the boundary between 2 and 3 dimensional space. I love the materiality of paper and I want the work to be experienced as sculptural. The play of positive/negative space is an important element, because it further confounds the reading of the work- which is the drawing, the mark or the space? Surface played against depth.