Posted on: October 9, 2023 Posted by: Marty Pavlik Comments: 0

Photo by Marty Pavlik, Staff writer

By Marty Pavlik, Staff writer

Upon entering the Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery you are invited into the world of Antonia Ruppert with the sound of music echoing from a corner across the room.  The rhythm felt as almost an embrace and I was drawn to that corner instantly.  There, playing out of a compact Anchor speaker, I could hear more clearly the tones of angelic voices and soft presses of piano keys.  The speaker played an arrangement of songs ranging in moods curating this tempo of togetherness, as Antionia Ruppert invites us to contemplate life with her.

Self portraits play a large role in Ruppert’s work.  Within this style using oil, watercolor, acrylic paint, and some other materials, she is able to tell a vast  amount of unique stories within a similar perspective.  One of the pieces that I enjoyed titled, “Self Portraits,” welcomes the viewer into this theme of perspective that is found throughout the gallery.  With each portrait seemingly carrying similar qualities through the warm bright watercolors, they individually symbolize different stories.  They hold separate expressions and feelings all while remaining in the realm of an everyday life.  Growing up, Antonia was always a vibrant part of her community  Being known as the artist from such a young age, she has always relied on art as a form of expression for life as she experiences it.  Altogether, she exercises the ideas of intimacy and authenticity throughout her work. 

A very intimate piece titled, “Well Guided Soul,” brings the viewer to the time after the passing of her father. This piece embodies grieving and closure, Ruppert said, “my soul and mind needed care and solace.  I was well carried.”  Many of Ruppert’s works are faith driven, along with her music that shuffles seemingly too perfectly.  An importance in belief and hope is communicated throughout.  Along with that, the acknowledgment of perseverance is persistent.  On one section of the wall, I came upon a cluster of portraits that I found exemplified the presence of perseverance through the different aspects of life within the friends and family in Ruppert’s life.  Of all the roles in our everyday life that must be filled by someone, one is undoubtedly a mother.  In the piece “Awaken with Joy,” Ruppert thinks back on her mother and what she learned through her while also asking us the question, “What did your mom teach you?”  I enjoy how Ruppert includes the viewer into her works, as we are anyways all experiencing this life together.

Photo by Marty Pavlik

Antonia Ruppert is a big advocate for mental health with her work after having experienced a variety of trauma throughout her childhood.  Life as she knew it was not easy and we are privileged to have someone like Ruppert to tell us these stories through her remarkable works.  The piece titled, “Who Matters in the City?” is one of those stories.  Growing up in an urban area and with a disability,  Ruppert experienced what true mistreatment and unfairness is.  This work is a reminder of “life” and asks the question to our world, “Who matters?”   I found the painting “After Double Dutch,” to share the same qualities of the story being told.  When Ruppert says, “children who witness this journey for better or worse,” she forces the viewer to be aware of the hardships some children must face everyday and challenges us to recall life as we experience it. 

One of my favorite pieces in the gallery was the work titled, “Day Job.”  This painting  exhibits the mundane everyday life.  The multitude of faces you encounter at a given job day by day that almost makes us feel like were are fleeing from ourselves, forces us to realizes we are bound down by life itself.  We are forced to see a mutated version of our individuality in order to fulfill a role. 

Photo by Marty Pavlik

This work reminded me of a piece from the last installation in the Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery: Conflux by Jacob Boglio.  With the use of a reclaimed steel fence over a painted wall, the piece titled, “Still Dreaming”brings the viewer into a world of hope and understanding.  The blue hue behind the fence compared to the white walls beside it nearly entices the viewer to want to reach for it.  We are dreaming, but we are stuck on the other side of this steel fence just watching.  We can see the dream, but cannot necessarily reach it.  This summons the viewers into the mindset of wanting more, knowing there is more, but are being bounded by given circumstances .  This visual storytelling of how we mutate our identities and dreams to fulfill a position is exceptional and both of these artists excel in that aspect. 

In the center of the room, the viewers are invited to interact with a large colorful sheet of paper detailing a drawing.  Next to the paper was a box of crayons that said to color on the paper as pleased.  I thought this was fascinating.  This perfectly encapsulated Ruppert’s mindset and vision when it comes to community, togetherness, love, and ultimately, art.  Although I was alone in the gallery I felt as if someone had guided me through it.  This contemplation of life and perseverance made my feet feel light, as if I floated from piece to piece.  As the music from the speaker began to take over my hand, I glided a purple crayon amongst this harmony of life that Antonia Ruppert perfectly presents to us.  You must experience this for yourself. 

A Broken Crayon Still Colors is showing at the Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery until October 31 in the Fine and Performing Arts Center.  

Photos by Marty Pavlik