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Rugg, Kimfree

Active in London.

Canadian, 21st century, female.

Born 1963, in Montreal, Canada.

Collage artist. Text art, society and politics.

Spending months at a time on a single piece, Kim Rugg’s artwork is meticulous and obsessive. The results of her labors could have been accomplished in mere minutes using a tool such as Photoshop but Rugg constructs strictly by hand. Rugg will dismember and deconstruct objects such as newspapers, stamps, maps and comic books down to their basic parts – individual letters and colors – and then reassemble the objects to create a new image. Working with objects that are recognizable and familiar to the viewer at first glance, further inspection of Rugg’s works reveals disruptions; the intended message is no longer legible.

One of her most extensive projects, Don’t Mention the War, consists of an entire edition of The Guardian newspaper reassembled alphabetically, according to size. Even the images have not escaped Rugg’s scalpel as she cuts each image into minuscule blocks and reorders them according to color gradations. The result is a completely illegible object that no longer transmits the news. Instead the viewer is left to analyze the layout and structure of the medium that we supposedly rely on for our factual information.

Using similarly detailed processes of cutting and pasting by hand, Rugg creates works of art using reassembled postage stamps. These works consist of an envelope and several stamps that have been finely cut up and rearranged to create either a new image or the same image that appears to have undergone some minor editing, such as being stretched out. In addition to the creation of an image, it is critical for these works to also travel through the care of the postal service. More often than not, these stamps are still able to fulfill their purpose and the envelopes to reach their final destinations. Rugg’s stamp series offers up another opportunity for the viewer to contemplate methods by which people communicate, especially in a world that so often uses technology as its primary tool.

Rugg meticulousness is also exhibited in her Maps series, where she very precisely redraws maps of various locations within the United States, Great Britain and North America with one component missing: borders. Each map drawing includes only city names and topographical details, such as lakes and parks, resulting in an image that questions how society has constructed their boundaries.

Throughout Rugg’s artistic practice, the artist analyzes the information-sharing mediums, both new and however outdated they might be, that society has deemed to be reliable and trustworthy. She offers up an object that invites the viewer to question and critique these practices for themselves. Rugg’s work can be viewed in a number of prominent institutions such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Group Exhibitions

2011, Pulse Contemporary Art Fair, Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles

2012, Girl Talk: Women and Text, Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh

2015, Rock, Paper, Scissors: Drawn from the JoAnn Gonzalez Hickey Collection, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Solo Exhibitions

2008, Don’t Mention The War, P.P.O.W Gallery, New York

2012, Are You Sitting Comfortably, Nettie Horn Gallery, London

2013, Patterns of Landscape, Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Houston (MFA): America (2013, ink on wove paper)

San Diego (MoCA): Don’t Mention the War (2004, newsprint, 26 pieces)

Washington, DC (NG): No More Dry-Runs (2008, cut and rearranged newspaper)

Bibliography