Using Clay to Concretize the Psychological State of Being Wounded

Brie Ruais, “Letting the Fire In, 130 pounds” (2021)pit fired stoneware, hardware, 67 x 67 x 3 inches (production credit to Studio Scala of Santa Fe) (photo by author)

In her clay relief sculptures, Brie Ruais explores the exit wound and its deep psychological implications. For example, in “Exiting Wound, 130 Pounds of Clay,” there is a jagged hole at the center of the relief, with several lines radiating out. Ruais concretizes in clay Ocean Vuong’s metaphor. His 2016 book Night Sky with Exit Wounds suggests many of us bear the emotional equivalent of exit wounds from words fired and misfired our way.

The exit wound is created by Brie Ruais’s body, which is shown in the video “Digging in, Digging Out“, (2021) on view in the Albertz Benda gallery, as well as online on Vimeo. Her process involves pushing clay out from a center where she sits on the ground. She tears, scraps, spreads, to form ray-like forms with luscious textures and a blend of colors. Once this spreading is finished, she cuts the work into pieces and then fires them in a kiln.

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