Kelly Ruth

Kelly Ruth: Persistence Within Dimensions of Ideals
The Main Gallery: July 30 – September 11, 2021
Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 St, Edmonton

Persistence Within Dimensions of Ideals is a multi-media installation of Kelly Ruth, an Edmonton-based textile/new media/performance artist. The project consists of three key formal components, which are thematically and conceptually interconnected.

The first component of the installation, pH: Measurement of Success is a woven, interactive 20 ft. long cloth with stylized imagery made of wool yarn and natural dyes extracted from plants, and accompanied by a set of wall-mounted, woven “spectres” with sensors. The latter activate a soundtrack, which Ruth has developed from recordings of the mechanics of the artist’s weaving loom. The work reflects the artist’s interest in merging technology with art by activating and animating her textiles through using electronics, led lights, sensor-activated sound, and integrating microcontrollers into the foundations of her woven cloth to simulate ‘life’, but also provides artist’s commentary on a relationship the humans have had with the land.

Accompanying pH: Measurement of Success is 4-Dimensional Persistence – a six-minute video that draws on narratives of nature reclaiming regions previously built-up and inhabited by humans. The images taken by Kelly Ruth during her visit to and the exploration of the Ukrainian city of Pripyat – completely abandoned after a nuclear disaster in the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in April 1986 – are juxtaposed with the ones taken by the artist within a forgotten lot in the downtown Winnipeg and hidden behind the fence for decades. Ruth’s woven sculpture and the video address – in a very subtle way – pressing environmental issues and topics about disastrous technological encroachments into the natural environment, fragility of eco systems, conservation, sustainability, preservation, biodiversity, and threatened habitats.

Kelly Ruth’s multi-media installation concludes with the Platonic Solids. Inspired by Plato’s Theory of Forms, Ruth has built a set of five sculptures made of felt. The works represent each of the five Platonic Solids. Each Form has been ascribed to represent each of the four classical elements: earth was associated with cube, air with the octahedron, water with the icosahedron, fire with the tetrahedron, with the fifth Form/Solid, dodecahedron, that is meant to represent ether, universe or spirit. The Platonic Solids are prominent in the philosophy of Plato. In Plato’s view, these Forms constitute the building-blocks not merely of the inorganic world, but of the entire physical universe, including organic and inorganic matter. They also formed a solid basis for his “theory of everything”.

For several centuries, the Platonic Solids have been regarded by mathematicians, physicists, astronomers, microbiologists, esoteric philosophers, and several visual artists as highly significant elements to understand the principle of the universe.

Persistence Within Dimensions of Ideals reflects artist’s quest and desire for the logical, harmonious, and stable world for all inhabitants.

As Kelly Ruth said, “ … In a post truth world where people have gone mad and few take the time to try and hear each other, I find myself needing to slip into another dimension. To be closer to the truth and find hope in folding time, connecting points in history with points in the future. Earnestly hoping this age does not result in an irreconcilable collapse.”


Artist’s Biography

Kelly Ruth is a textile/new media/performance artist from Winnipeg in Treaty One Territory, currently living and working in Edmonton in Treaty Six Territory.

Most recently, Ruth has been activating her textiles and tools through using electronics, sound, and integrating microcontrollers into the foundations of her woven cloth. She has created several bodies of work using fibre and dyeing them with natural dyes extracted from plants. This process is the artist’s recognition of early technologies in weaving and her nod to a relationship that humans have had with the land. In her work, she is primarily concerned with the socio-political interplay between class, economics, and ecology.

In performance, she uses contact microphones and effects pedals on her weaving loom and other related tools. Kelly Ruth has a background as a textile dyer/painter for dance, theatre, and film companies across Canada, primarily working for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. She performs solo and with an improvisational trio named Civvie. Ruth has performed solo at the Vancouver New Music Festival, A Handmade Assembly Festival in Sackville, New Brunswick, Forthwith Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has exhibited a textile/sound installation work as part of Send + Receive Festival in Winnipeg. Working with Civvie, she has performed at Jazz Winnipeg, New Music Edmonton, Sounds Like Festival in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has opened for an improvisational collaboration between Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois. Ruth has received many awards and commendations for her creative works. Her artwork has been a subject of several solo and group exhibitions across Canada.


Kelly Ruth Artist


Top Image: pH: Measurement of Success, woven cloth, led lights, mixed media.
Portion of Persistence Within Dimensions of Ideals installation.
Photo by Robert Szkolnicki