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Review: 'Ursula Von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own' an Inspiring Peek Into the Artistic Process

by Noe Kamelamela
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Sep 30, 2020
'Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own'
'Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own'  (Source:Itinerant Pictures)

I work near "SCIENTIA," one of several Ursula von Rydingsvard monumental sculptures in bronze. I discovered this twisted, metal tower on a walk one day and I was astounded. Hovering over twenty feet, there are suggestions of the natural world in its layers, not just of rock faces or coral reefs, but also of trees and hands reaching tortuously upwards for knowledge. Commissioned abstract sculptures with large scales tend to suggest stability or some sort of harmonic, symmetric unity and not this chaotic expansion. The upward thrust of the piece towards a top-heavy outstretched hollow opening features not just layers stacked upon layers, but also tapers down to a thin and slim stem seemingly scored by the wind and rain. Viewing her work after watching "Ursula Von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own" definitely inspires more awe after getting to peek behind the curtain.

At less than an hour, this documentary on her work and life keeps a very fast pace and even includes "SCIENTIA," in addition to other similarly produced sculptures. Audience members who do not have general art history knowledge may not be able to understand all of the terminology or techniques, and that is forgivable; some things just are, and it will hopefully encourage younger artists who may not have attempted sculpture yet to take an interest.

Given her background and her fairly long lifespan, not having knowledge of world history is a similar handicap. I do think this documentary is appropriate for younger viewers, particularly young adults who may never have had the opportunity to create sculptures themselves.

Interviews with von Rydingsvard, although illuminating on her philosophies and mindset at certain times of her life, are not necessarily as interesting as watching her create with members of her studio, particularly with her chosen medium, cedar wood. After developing an allergy over the years, she wears significant amounts of Personal Protective Equipment to interact with cedar. She appears, with her face in focus behind a ventilated shield, to be an astronaut on a mission to create new worlds, one piece of cut cedar at a time. The planning and huge amount of human labor involved in one of these large monstrosities is immense, and Traub tries to include not just people who enjoy and criticize the finished products, but also her studio artists who cut the wood and carry out her visions.

A film by Daniel Traub
Icarus Films
57 mins
Available on DVD and VOD

Noe Kamelamela is a reader who reads everything and a writer who writes
very little.

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