Ruth becker is a multidisciplinary artist, working primarily in cut paper and acrylic painting. Known for her incisive layering techniques, Ruth creates intricately cut and precisely-layered paper sculptures, as well as bright abstract and landscape paintings. Her papercutting work is rooted in traditional Jewish folk craft, and she is especially well-known for her ketubahs (Jewish wedding art,) of which she has created over 2,000 for marrying couples around the world.
I create works of intricately-cut and stacked paper, each comprised of a progressively-layered sequence driven by repetition and change.
I design my paper works digitally, typically beginning with a simple shape such as a circle, a waveform, or a teardrop that functions as the work’s starting point. I then copy or repeat this initial form a dozen (or a few dozen) times, making subtle but significant changes as I go, each new instance or repeated shape incrementally different from the stage or copy preceding it. I then compile these transformations into a single image and organize its components into a sequence in which each layer incorporates and builds upon the next. Each discrete stage of transformation is then cut from a separate sheet of paper and the sheets are layered, stacked, and assembled.
By both incorporating and revealing their constituent stages, the works enact a creative transformation in reflected light and cast shadow and — much like tree rings or geological strata — become artifacts of the developmental process they describe.
How does the theme ‘Biosphere’ play a role in your work?
My multi-layered cut paper artworks are like tree rings or geological strata, cut crosswise to reveal their once-hidden inner workings and naked beauty. The works are artifacts of the creative process they describe, textured by time and change.
The conditions that make life possible on our planet developed over the course of eons. This process is mirrored in my work, in which repetition and subtle change allow for new combinations, ever-more extensive connections, and increased complexity. My works enact these expansions, combining layering and repetition with subtle changes to build on an initial impulse — driving the creative process relentlessly forward.
The result is more than the sum of its parts. Paper, when cut and stacked, transforms from a flat surface into a dimensional object. Similarly, non-living systems, layered in time and transformation, provide the vital ground in which all of earth’s life is rooted.
Driven by the twin forces of repetition and variation, my works tend to take on rock-like or wave-like forms, suggesting ancient trees and shells; pinecones or petals; primordial waters of the earth itself; oceans whose captivating surface only hints at mysteries they shroud, hypnotic waves frozen in time revealing their complex yet delicate structure.
However multilayered and textured these formations may be, however, my papercuts — like the biosphere — are achingly fragile. Paper is a humble, workaday medium, sensitive to change and contagion. These artworks — like our planet — require attention and care.