Kate Ruddle
My sculptural installations consist of sewn and manipulated fabric sculpture (apparel, home decor, equestrian, camping, nautical) as well as photographic images and video.  I use fabric, video and architectural elements to create objects and environments that explore how fabric can protect or control and reveal and define social position. My art references architecture, clothing and customs to investigate boundaries of personal and public space.  I like to play with trappings that serve to wrap people into a social structure.

The Marie Antoinette Project is based on a treasure trove of inspiration including books, movies, and the textile library at the de Young Museum. It seems poetic that after exorbitant purchases, economic downfall and a revolution, that only a single shoe, baby bonnet, a small corset and a swatch book of fabrics remain.  I have been working to recreate items symbolic of Marie Antoinette and create a faux store. The handmade book made for Marin MOCA has a print of a 1783 receipt of Marie Antoinette’s expenditures and contemplates the effect that she had on the French economy and the silk industry in France.

A project that I have started and will be working on more into the future is a Charles Darwin project based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Red List catalogues plants and animals that are at risk of extinction. Species are listed as Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable, Near Threatened and Least Concern. The Charles Darwin theme is the excitement of the European world “discovering” these species 200 years ago and how rapidly they have declined or become extinct in that short time.  The common theme I have noticed so far is that if a species is at risk – its habitat is at risk, mostly due to the impact that humans have on their environment.

The history of garments, social habitats, and power structures fascinate me. Worn items can be used to protect or expose the body and reveal and define social position. Throughout history there are examples of people’s erasure as they don’t fit into society’s structure.  As society becomes more advanced does individualism become more or less threatening?  How do we define ourselves in relationship to a social history that encompasses and precedes us? Can we tailor society to meet our needs? My installations grapple with these questions.


 “History doesn’t repeat itself but sometimes it rhymes” _Mark Twain


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