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Visions of the Future, in Concrete and Neon

Artist Esther Ruiz creates mixed-media sculptures that don't look like they're from Earth.

The studio of artist Esther Ruiz is a dreamland: Neon lights, geodes, glitter plexiglass and acrylic tubing are strewn across her work table, soon to be rearranged, paired up, and seated in concrete. With titles like Cosmic Woah, New Stone Age and Dream Space 9, her sculptures seem to belong to a distant future, like souvenirs brought back from interplanetary, time-bending adventures.

Ruiz started this body of work after moving to New York from Memphis, Tennessee, just two weeks after finishing college. "Affected by a geology class I took, the cylindrical forms I use come from looking at core samples. I was fascinated with them not only physically, but also with the idea that these objects tell time and history," she tells The Creators Project.

Once she's found a combination of materials that "feels right," her process leaves little room for error. "Because concrete is so unforgiving, I have to prepare everything really accurately so I get it right on the first pour," she explains. After drafting a blueprint for the mold, she builds it out, making sure to leave an interior void for the hardware, wiring and transformer, with dowels as stand-ins for the neon. Once the concrete is dry, she removes the mold and dowels, and inserts the neon.

These works, relatively small in scale, feel as though they could be picked up and held in one's hands, "like snow-globes from places traveled," she remarks. And if working small has thus far been a necessity in her cramped studio space, that's about to change. She recently landed double the square footage, and larger, freestanding sculptures are on the way.

Esther Ruiz's work is on view at Reynolds Gallery in Richmond through July 17, and a solo show at Platform Gallery in Baltimore opens August 8th. See more of her work here.

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