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Quarantine Confidential: Elaine Rutherford

Are you ok? What are you doing to stay sane & ride out the quarantine?

I think I'm Ok.  Probably better off than many.  I am one of the lucky ones who will continue to be paid through this so I am very grateful for that.  I'm trying not to get too freaked out when I leave the house to forage for food.  To stay sane:  I actually have a. lot of work to keep me busy.  I'm trying to figure out good ways to move all of the classes that I teach online.  Ive been trying to come up with projects that are fun, interesting and doable given the varying circumstances that my students are finding themselves in, so there's that.  I am making a concerted effort to not spend too much time on social media which only seems to fuel my anxiety these days so my new routine is that first things I do with my morning coffee is a little watercolor drawing.  Ive started a new sketchbook for this, "the pandemic drawings':). I also unearthed a piece that I had worked on years ago which has finally found its day in the sun.  It's a crochet virus and antibody curtain.  Image attached.  I'm also working on a side project, with my partner John Ryan.  It's  a product line, "Totally Totes", under the company name Thirdly and Thrice.  Images also attached.

Anyone can screen print totes efficiently not us. Here at Thirdly and Thrice we pride ourselves on doing things in the most tine consuming and handmade way.  Our totes are hand printed linoleum cut block prints. Handy!

What’s your favorite disaster movie?

Well I have to confess that I've always liked a good disaster movie and am still quite enamored with the 70's slew of disaster movies, specifically the Poseiden Adventure and the Towering inferno. Though  "The Birds". may be my favorite.  I think that counts as a disaster movie.

Who or what has had the biggest influence on your career/work

Phew, Im not sure.  I'd say that leaving my home of Scotland has the biggest influence in terms of content.  It seems that whether I am aware of it or not almost all the work that I make is in some way related to this experience.  There are many writers who I am inspired by and influenced by.  I always return to "A field guide to getting lost "by Rebecca Solnit and Susan Stewarts" Open Studio "as well as the poems of Jackie Kay and Carol Ann Duffy (Scottish poets),  Also landscape specifically the Scottish landscape which is transporting like nothing else.  It takes you outside of yourself and into the space of the sublime.

Best art show you’ve seen this past decade and where.

I was really moved by the most recent show at MIA before it closed," When Home won't let you stay."  But I also loved "Rose and Melvin Smith, Remembering Rondo" which was at the Weisman last year.  Ive seen so many inspiring shows in the last decade but those are the two most recent that come to mind.  Also a show that I saw last year at AGO in Toronto of Vija Celmins, I love her work.

What has been the high point of your career? Lowest?

High point:  I love being able to work in my studio and to do my teaching job.  These are consistent high points I'd say.  But showing my work in Rome and in Scotland and being able to travel there for the openings was pretty nice as well.  I gave a talk at Princeton a couple of yeas ago to a group of researchers who were really smart and they seemed to appreciate what I had to share and I didn't feel to stupid so that was also quite nice.  Low:  Well it has taken me a while to learn to not be discouraged by rejection:)

What are you working on right now?

In addition to the projects already mentioned I am working on a series of graphite drawings.  They are drawings of nothing!  John takes pictures of these fleeting moments in time, passing light that are really abstract and ephemeral.  I have been responding to them through these drawings.  What I like about them is that they become these really interesting (for me) meditations on the in between space, neither here nor there,  and also meditations on trying to arrest time.

What’s coming up for you on the calendar for the future?

In terms of exhibitions, Ive been taking a break and focusing on what it is like to work without a deadline and having the freedom to fully explore which is liberating.  There is a faculty exhibition at CSB/SJU next year.  I am also working on a more long term project  which in its very early stages.    It will be a collection of essays and interviews with artists whose content is driven by experiences of leaving a homeland.    At some point I will want to show my drawings the light of day.

Anything you want to plug?  

Totally Totes by Thirdly and Thrice:)   Tote-ally filling your needs:)

What is your porn star name? (First pet, mothers maiden name).

Lucky Morgan.

Favorite tv show or movie?

I always find these questions so hard to answer,  So many movies,  I used to love Terence Malik until I saw his most recent film.  But I still like Badlands and Days of Heaven.  There is another old film (1937) by Michael Powell, "The Edge of the World", Its definitely one of my all time favorites,   about a community of islanders living on a remote Scottish Island and their evacuation.   It is loosely based on the story of the evacuation of islanders from St.  Kilda .

Any good jokes lately?

Acoustic:  What a Scottish farmers used on his cows Bwaa ha ha!

Tell us a secret!  

I don't think I have any secrets but I'll let you know when I do.

If you could pick a museum to break into and steal one painting, where and what?

Museo del Prado Madrid, Heironymous Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights

Learn more about Elaine and her work at:


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