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Gorman chat: Ellen Rutt

Gorman’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection spotlights designer and multidisciplinary artist Ellen Rutt, whose work embodies freedom of expression and reflects the vibrancy of Detroit’s art scene. Ellen Rutt is known for her sell-out exhibitions and highly engaging large-scale installations, working regularly with textiles and a mismatched set of substrates and materials.

With sustainability and inclusivity at the centre of all Rutt’s themes, this collaboration brings together a lively blend of wide brush strokes, unfinished edges and crisp shapes.

We talked to Ellen Rutt to find out more about her process and what inspires the work she creates.

What is your inspiration behind the chosen artworks and print stories?

The chosen artwork represents a broad range, from fully finished paintings to small sketches and quick digital collages - which I think is an accurate portrayal of me as an artist and person, everything is in varying degrees of finished.

A lot of my work revolves around the understanding that everything is connected - America and Australia are on opposite sides of the globe, but our beliefs, behaviours, practices and policies are all part of the same Earth systems. I use abstract shapes to represent ideas, thoughts and behaviours as they intersect and overlap to form systems of interactions.

Does the art and music scene in Detroit inspire you? What makes it special?

My favourite part of the Detroit arts and music scene is how collaborative it is. In addition to each visual and musical artists’ personal practice, there are a lot of interesting and important projects that centre cooperation among creatives while also prioritizing race, class and gender equity.

How do you conceptualize your large-scale public installations?

It’s almost exactly like collage - but instead of paper I use scrap wood and instead of scissors I use a jigsaw. I think of it like collaging in time and space - they are often temporary installations, designed to interact with a specific place. I document these installations with my camera and drone, and then they only exist as archives of a particular moment.

How has your relationship with the art world differed since you started your art practice?

This is a really good question because the “art world’ is a catch-all term for the systems of art producing, “commissioning, presenting, preserving, promoting, chronicling, criticizing, buying and selling” (cited from Wikipedia) there are Universities and higher education institutions, museums, galleries, DIY spaces, branded content and commercial projects, now there digital art exhibitions and NFT’s, VR and AR, and new platforms I’ve never even heard of.

It is hard to pinpoint how my relationship with the art world, specifically, has changed, because everything about life is always changing - new technologies emerge, old wisdom resurfaces, artists are always responding to current events and envisioning worlds beyond our present constructed realities.

What I know to be true, is that I make my best work when I am not thinking about the art world at all, but connecting to the deeper questions that transcend erratic market trends.

The models you have chosen for the campaign are perfect for this collaboration. Are you able to give some insight to your selection process?

It was truly a collaborative process between myself, the Gorman team and the photographer Bre'Ann White. I wanted to have a variety of styles and expressions in the models that reflects both the collection as a whole and the City I live in. I think what made this campaign so successful was the fact that the entire production team consisted of creatives who are all living and working in Detroit! I really value every opportunity to invest in the creative economy here.

What's next for Ellen Rutt?

I am working towards a solo show that opens on November 6th at Louis Buhl, a gallery located in downtown Detroit, MI! Stay tuned for the announcement!

Check out Gorman’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection here.

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