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Orgy in the Sky: Rebecca Ripple
by Jessica Rath

Los Angeles-based Rebecca Ripple first intrigued me with word works that seemed to hollow out a place for the human body in banal furnishings. thigh/blind (2001), for instance, spells out “thigh” by cutting the word, letter by letter, into aluminum blinds; in another piece, “elbo” is sewn into a Home Depot rug. By 2004, she was creating room-sized word sculptures like tongue (after Rubens). Built from pristine, hand-sanded layers of Styrofoam, the bulbous letters spelling “tongue” (varying in height from four to seven feet) make a fluid composition based on the figures in Peter Paul Rubens’s The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus (c. 1617). Through a wide-ranging formal tenacity, Ripple asserts that the medium for rational discourse—language—can be cowed into serving as her physical plaything. But how does a sculptor come to be inspired by Rubens’s fluidity and sexuality?

tongue (after Rubens), 2004.
Foam and wood, 89 x 108 x 144 in.


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