Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Athi-Patra Ruga: A Colorful Intersection

          Born in Umtata, South Africa, Athi-Patra Ruga has created a new art form that oozes energy and vitality. His work represents the explosive intersection of the body's sensuality, its wonderfully exciting perceptual abilities, and its visual hybridization of cultures.

This pair of legs topped with balloons represents an important aspect of Ruga's work. It looks like the political state of affairs in Africa--how they are changing and taking shape, how violence continues while there is longing for hope. This combination of occurrences is particularly pronounced when the balloons full of colored paint pop.

The Work of Athi-Patra Ruga: Athi-Patra-Ruga6.jpg

Ruga's style stems from his upbringing and the political climate at the time. He and his family rejected religion imposed on them from the West, but Ruga learned how to pretend in multiple settings. He grew to love the incorporation of the female body into his work. For him and his people, Sangomas, or spiritual healers, were most often women. He also noted the female portrayal of women in Hollywood: they had to navigate living lives to please others. Ruga deeply related to this through his trial of finding himself in and outside of imposed schooling.

The Work of Athi-Patra Ruga: Athi-Patra-Ruga0.jpg

I don't think that Ruga manifests the creative definition of some intellectual performance in a given trial classified by Barron & Harrington--these works consist of socially recognized achievements in the form of tangible pieces of art. Ruga has created a kind of performance that his art displays to represent the idea that where he, or anyone for that matter, comes from is not the dominate indication of who he is. He has blended his African including his idea of women combined with his experience of performance and love for the luxury of Hollywood. 
Ruga has also displayed incredible associational abilities, as described by Barron & Harrington. He has found a way to combine all of the facets of his life that have so greatly impacted him into each piece of art. 
I think that Ruga was able to create, and continues to create, his work because he demonstrates that he has Lubart & Sternberg's six creativity resources. The problem in this situation was his own personal need to express some form of identity. He was quite aware of this issue early on in his life with the pressure to be one way at school and another way at home. Second, not only was Ruga knowledgeable of the "state of the market," meaning the world of artistic method, but he combined knowledge from many different and rather unlikely sources--the women healers of his home, Hollywood, and politics. The content and his work and what it represent demonstrate a liberal, legislative, and global style of thinking as he was able to remain on the look out for inspiration from anywhere in the world.
That being said, I think Ruga's work is an example the work of a little c creative. His work is not indicative of any paradigm shift, but it is original in its look and composition. I think its a wonderful representation of his colorful personality and perspective.

1 comment:

  1. I find these works really striking! Although I would agree that the artist may not demonstrate eminent level creativity, it is certainly little c (or even pro c) level! I don't know that I've seen anything quite like it before, and that to me signals a sign of creativity. Looking at more of the artwork on his website gave me an even better picture of Ruga's style. It seems like he really incorporates a lot of different mediums in his work, and that he combines them in novel ways. His work elicits an emotional reaction from the audience, even if it isn't fully understood in its context. I think that anyone who is able to accomplish that is already well on their way to communicating creatively!


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