Skyshapes | Ruth Koelewyn
Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center
Sep. 5, 2023 - Oct. 29, 2019
My work is currently focused on depicting the shape and character of the sky in a given place. In Detroit, looking out at Lafayette Park, it creates blue crowns around large buildings with open parks surrounding them. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, where I lived prior to my return to Michigan, it was a small triangle of blue seen between tightly packed houses when you looked up past the mountains. At Jazdow, a community in Warsaw, Poland where I worked in residence in May 2018, the sky was filtered and fragmented by the dense trees around the small houses. I am recording these characteristics because the sky, while helping to define a unique sense of space and place, is also something huge, outside ourselves, universal and ubiquitous. By putting the shape of the sky into drawings, collages and sculptures, I am making the sky a thing to hold, to understand, to identify as our own: a part of ourselves.
When we live in a place for a long period, or perhaps are just confined briefly with a limited view, the scenes through our windows or on familiar walks around a neighborhood become a part of our sense of self, our security and comfort. By focusing attention on these sentiments my work serves to make viewers aware of their kinship with the world around them.
By pulling the shapes of the sky formed by our structures into graspable forms, I offer a representation of the sky to inspire people to connect to the spaces they occupy and the people around them. It is a visual gesture to help people feel part of something larger than themselves.
I am working with the hashtag “#skyshapes” to build social media awareness of the project and to create a worldwide group of participants.