Month: August 2014

sound sculpture piece by Enrique Rueda

Enrique Rueda Sculpts Sound

sound sculptures being playedThe space between art and music is filled

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

I was immediately intrigued when I discovered the artist I was going to interview creates sound sculptures. I wasn’t familiar with them other than what I had seen on The Artery’s website. I learned about Enrique Rueda’s passion for sound sculptures as I sat down with him in his studio. Enrique constructs striking wood sculptures that produce melodious sounds. I feel fortunate to have experienced a personal interaction with some of these beauties, and was able to create some pleasant sounds myself even though I haven’t played an instrument in years. I’m ready to see Enrique perform a live show, and I bet you will be too after reading this.

 View Enrique Rueda’s Artery Shop!

sound sculpture cello

You can purchase this gorgeous sound sculpture, “Amazon Cello” in a secure transaction via The Artery! Click on the image for more information.

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

Wood and strings with electronic pick up

sound sculptur

sound sculptur

How did you get started constructing sound sculptures?

Working on my Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin, I met professor “Skip” Johnson, a well-known artist in the U.S. He inspired me to use skills I already had, making all types of traditional musical instruments, and apply them to making wood sculptures. Since I am also a musician, it was easy to figure out that I wanted those sculptures to produce interesting sounds. Little by little I started identifying my work with the ideas behind Sound Sculpture as an art form, and I have been doing that for the past 30 years. Every piece I create is unique, since I don’t like to repeat a design. It takes me about 2-3 months to fully finish a piece and be happy with the outcome.


sound1What exactly is a sound sculpture and where did they originate from?

Sound sculptures as an art form, fill the space between a sculpture and a musical instrument. They are more than a sculpture because in the hands of a musician, they are capable of producing interesting sounds. They differ from musical instruments, because they are unique like sculptures, and not objects with a standard shape, as musical instruments need to be. With this in mind, we can say that the origin of sound sculpture is parallel to human development. Sound sculpture actually started when the first human groups created devices to produce sound. For example, if we look at ancient African art, we will see many interesting objects that look like musical instruments, but have a very unique shape. They can be drums, harps or flutes, but they are all different. Many other cultures all over the world have created objects like that, that we can call sound sculptures.


sound3Do people typically buy them to use as an instrument or as an art display?

Because they are sold in a gallery setting, most collectors buy them as unique sculpture pieces. I do not mind that, but I work at making them good sound makers as well, in case a curious musician wants to try them.


What motivates you during the design process?

My motivation to make the sculptures comes from my curiosity about how they will sound and how they will be played. It is something very unique to musical instruments, that they need a talented human being to extract the sound and create music. Without that they will just be sculptures or copies of sculptures. The human interaction then becomes another element of the whole design that is very interesting to me and takes my pieces into the realm of performance art.


sound sculpture piece by Enrique RuedaDid you create any pieces that you actually play?

Yes, all of my pieces can be played and produce interesting sounds. I often perform with them in openings as well as record CDs that I later sell. This is something that is very important to me. My reward for creating them is to use them. I have a few friends in town that have purchased pieces from me, and they have specifically told me that I can borrow them whenever I want for a performance. I have taken them up on their offer many times.


Is it possible for an entire band to perform using sound sculptures?

Yes, it is! I have performed live with friends all using sound sculptures, sometimes in my own openings and other times in formal concerts. We performed with the name of “Artsemble” as one of the groups for the opening of the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. We used all sound sculptures, made by me or other member of the group.


Do you still perform live and/or sell CD’s?

Yes, I perform often. I play a few traditional instruments and have two different bands with friends. One is Xtring Quartet (, we play traditional music from the Andean regions in Colombia. Also, with another band, Cuicani (, we play a variety of Latin American music, including Andean music from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile


Has anyone ever asked you to create a sound sculpture that they designed? Do you take special requests?

Yes, I build pieces on customer’s request. Not from their own design, but rather a variation of design from something I made before.

Jason Yi Installing a Piece at the MMoCA

Jason Yi Installs Wonder at MMoCA

Jason Yi Installing a Piece at the MMoCA

I had the utmost pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jason S. Yi at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Jason has been installing an exhibition entitled A Fragile Permanence, and it’s quite an astonishing site. I have never had the experience of watching an exhibition unfold and wanted to capture it “behind the scenes.” Did you know that passersby are encouraged to not only peer through the museum’s State Street windows, but are welcome to come inside and get this same amazing experience first-hand? I encourage the public to come out and explore before the finished product is unveiled on August 23, and learn a little more about the mastermind right here.

Jason Yi Piece at MMoCAHow do bystanders play a role in the creation of this art installation?

Art for me is interaction, whether it’s just observing and seeing the work and getting interpretations out of that or about revealing the process of making. When people walk into the space, some don’t actually talk to me while others engage in conversation, but they hear me talk about the work to my assistants on how to arrange and finish off a certain area. For me, the interaction is for them to get insight on how I produce the work and what I have in mind as far as my overall vision is concerned. If they want to engage in a conversation with me about the why and how, I will talk to them about that as well. The conversations are wide ranging from very practical stuff to fairly conceptual aspects about what I’m trying to do.

Do you prefer working with color or black and white?

It depends on the work. Two or three years ago I preferred not to use color, but lately I have been inserting color into my work. The reason was because of the stereotype and representation of color – color is related to emotions, mood, and so forth (red means this, green means that). I prefer a certain level of subtlety to my work. A lot of it comes from Asian landscaping, because when you look at it, it’s very minimal color or no color. I think I was influenced by that and always fascinated with how much information can be relayed with just an image that doesn’t have any color to it. More and more, I’m inserting a jarring color into what I do. Why am I doing that? Maybe it’s because I’m just evolving. I’m using orange as a practical, functioning color. There’s something about orange that attracts people, but at the same time, it symbolizes re-direction to things.

Jason Yi Installing a Piece at the MMoCA

What is your favorite activity outside of the art world?

I like traveling as much as possible. The immersion into a different culture and region rejuvenates my senses about who I am, and gives me a good bearing about what I’m wanting to do with my art work and how I want to communicate what I do to my audience. I’m interested in what artists from other parts of the world are formulating, and what they do and are influenced by. Ultimately, I would like to think that we can see creative practices happening not just in a museum or gallery setting, but all around us, and for me to witness or discover that also feeds into what I do.

What is the Pitch Project in Milwaukee all about?

I’m one of four co-directors of the Pitch Project, which is a gallery and artist studio space. We have a large gallery within the building with 22 artists who reside there in artist studios. It’s a space that tries to bring the contemporary art world outside of our region to Milwaukee as much as possible. The Pitch Project, through the gallery space, tries to expose the community of Milwaukee to artists who are in the larger outside art world. The gallery has been open for about a year now and is really an exciting space.

I want to add that people will get a special treat if they come prior to the opening while this is being put up, because it will change and they can see the fascination from day to day.


The Sketchbook Project Drops by Madison

sketch1by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Madison continues to strike it rich in the art department, because the Sketchbook Project is on the road and heading to Madison. Mark your calendar for Wednesday, August 20th from 4-8pm, at the Central Library, located at 201 W. Mifflin, will be hosting the traveling Sketchbook Project. Not familiar with this organization? If you are an artist, you should be and you can learn all about it right here, because I interviewed the founder, Steven Peterman, to get you all up to speed.

Can you describe the Sketchbook Project in one sentence?

The Sketchbook Project is the world’s largest crowd-sourced collection of artist sketchbooks, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

How did this digital concept get its start?

Our Digital Library has existed for several years, but we recently launched a library card free digital checkout system. Our new system allows users to check out books using their own smartphones and iPads provided at our library locations. Users can create a cue of books to view and even preview digitized sketchbooks on their devices. We wanted to create a system which allows our audience to easily preview, access, and search our vast sketchbook library using keywords and themes. Users can even curate collections of their favorite sketchbooks on our new website.

Do you accept artists from anywhere in the world, and if so, how does one get their work included?

Anyone can join The Sketchbook Project by visiting our website, There, you can order a regular sketchbook to be mailed to you, which you can complete throughout the year. Sketchbooks that are mailed back to us by our annual deadline are included in the following year’s Mobile Library Tour throughout North America. Participating artists can also choose to have their sketchbooks digitized for easy viewing on our website by anyone around the world.

sketch2One interesting fact about participating in the project is that artists who register for a sketchbook have the option to create their own book from scratch, as long as it fits the normal 5″ x 7″ parameters when closed. Because many artists are bookbinders as well, we have a number of completely handmade books in our collection!

Are you looking for volunteers to assist in any way? If people are interested in helping out, who should they contact?

The Mobile Library will arrive with trained librarians on site to assist folks with check out!

What makes this project important to the art community?

The Sketchbook Project is a crucial platform for international artists to connect on a very personal level. At our Mobile Library Tour stops, our audience has the chance to view work by artists from around the world in a personal, tactile format, which can be much more direct than viewing a drawing on a gallery’s white wall. Similarly, viewers of our online Digital Library can see full detailed spreads of thousands of sketchbooks, providing an important tool for research in illustration, art, and specific themes which are tagged and searchable in our sketchbook database. In this sense The Sketchbook Project provides ways to connect for individuals who may be professional artists, aspiring artists, researchers, and people of all backgrounds who are simply interested in getting to know a stranger through their personal sketchbook story.

I am really excited about the Sketchbook Project’s visit to Madison. What can you share with the community about why they should check it out?

We are looking forward to visiting Madison this month. We hope the local community will join us at our tour stop because The Sketchbook Project acts as an outlet for artists to share their stories with the world, as every book tells a tale. From finding a cancer patient’s chronicle of their recovery, a marriage proposal between the bindings, or drawings made by distant friends, the Mobile Library has allowed for sketchbooks to evolve into a means of connecting with artists in a way you may otherwise never experience.

Wheelhouse Studios: a Public Playground for Artists

by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery


There is an exciting new “playground” for artists called Wheelhouse Studios. The studios are located in the lower level of the newly renovated west wing at the Memorial Union.

wheelhouse studios MadisonI had the pleasure of attending a preview party, and the space is quite impressive. Wheelhouse is made up of three studios:

1)     A full ceramics studio for wheel throwing, hand building, sculpture, and more

2)     Art metals, stained glass, glass fusing, lampworking, and polymer clay jewelry

3)     Drawing, painting, printmaking, digital photography, laser cutter, and fabric arts

wheelhouse Studios Madison, WIArtists should be excited about the hours, because they will be open from noon-11pm seven days a week. UW-Madison students will have free access, and all others can purchase passes in the form of daily, weekly, monthly and annual (best value).

Daily: Union Members $4 / Non-members $5

Monthly: Union Members $15 / Non-members $25

Discounted annual passes will be available and sold at either the Wheelhouse Studios Store or online: Union Members $135 / Non-members $225

wheel6In addition, the studios will offer DIY projects, courses, drop-in events, workshops, group parties, instruction and private instruction.

I spoke with Jay Ekleberry, Director of Wheelhouse Studios, and he is very excited about sharing the facilities with the community. I asked him what he feels Wheelhouse Studios will add to the art scene – “A true art maker space with multiple media capabilities and a truly affordable open studio space.” His advice for up-and-coming artists? “From someone who is not a professional/selling artist himself, enjoy the process and don’t get hung up on the end product.”

Wheelhouse Studios opens their doors to the public on September 2, 2014; however, you can check out their website now at Think about all the possibilities….