Artists Claim Ruby City

Kat Herriman

Installation view of "Reclaimed." Courtesy of Ruby City.

This spring marked a shift for Ruby City, formerly Linda Pace Foundation, in San Antonio. The institution rebranded itself in preparation for its new Sir David Adjaye building. In preparation for the opening, the foundation opened “Reclaimed,” a group exhibition appropriately title for this major transformation. The exhibition itself draws from the collection’s holdings–choosing 25 monochromatic works all executed by female artists. Here, two participants, Judy Dater and Lara Schnitger describe their relationship to the word reclamation and how its changed with time.

Dater’s Imogen and Twinka at Yosemite, 1974. © Judy Dater. Linda Pace Foundation Collection

Judy Dater: Reclamation means to take back what was taken or has been spoiled. It refers to land use in regard to water, and it seems like it should mean a kind of rehabilitation for land that has been spoiled. It seems like a word that should be used in regard to ecology. Some examples are restoring wetlands for birds and fish, cleaning up toxic waste to build housing, and planting trees to restore the soil and provide habitat for wildlife.

The word reclaim also is useful when talking about women and their use of their own image or images of other women. When a woman talks about reclaiming her own image I think she means to see herself through her own eyes and not the eyes of the opposite sex; to subvert the male gaze. Women are less likely to romanticize themselves and other women.

Schnitger’s Dix-huit+, 2005. © Lara Schnitger. Linda Pace Foundation Collection.

Lara Schnitger: In my work I like to take words with negative connotations or implied objectification, like “slut” and “witch,” and reclaim their positivity and agency. I find great power in reclaiming words and actions that others might try to use against you — I like to embrace the idea that, yes, I can be a witch and a slut and a mom and an artist, and none of it scares me. I do this with the textile in my work as well, for example I like to use flimsy materials like lingerie, silk and stockings, which have sensual associations and can be easily ripped or damaged, and I transfigure them into giant daunting sculptures or entangling webs. I also elevate my quilts out of the “granny craft” or “textile art” niche by literally taking them out of the home/gallery and putting them on the street, as in my “Suffragette City” procession, where the quilts are used as protest signs.