Thoughts on Chain-Link sculpture:

Thoughts about the sculpture: Context is critical to these sculptures.  The indoor and outdoor surroundings, as well as the relationship to other objects and to each other, are in constant flux.  In an outdoor setting the sculptures act as a monitor to the surroundings; interacting with the context of the site (with each other ... if there are more than one form) and the various weather and light conditions.  Indoors, whether alone or with other objects, a surreal environment is activated by the sculptures as the viewer navigates through the installation.

Phenomenon is also a major concern in my work,  making process an integral part of its content. The chain link fence pieces have evolved over the past several years, influenced by the urban context of my studio.  I have been working with the metal mesh/chain link fencing "fabric," exploring its complex characteristics. The shapes of the fence sculptures are determined by the structural characteristics mentioned above, stainless steel retention rings, zip ties, aircraft cable, and gravity.

 My approach to their construction is influenced by the structures and the objects produced by primary cultures.  The structures and objects from primary cultures have a presence that goes beyond their utilitarian purpose and hold a power that is a result of the refinement of form and directness and understanding of materials used to make them.

The shape of the fence pieces is determined by a combination of the structural characteristics of the fencing fabric, certain restrictions that I impose, and gravity.

In the landscape the sculptures perform as monitors to the site.  The available light is critical to the sculpture and performs as an agent, relating the sculpture to the site, and transcending its objectness to a more ethereal state.  The sculpture’s presence differs depending on the quality of light, ranging from the time of day to the time of year. They are objects that bring to question grander forces beyond our comprehension.        Quotes on the Chain-link Sculpture in reviews.

 The Material:  

1.  It can perform simultaneously as a membrane, as well as a structure.  

2.  It has a grain; in one direction it is rigid, yet in another, it will collapse on itself.  

3.  It is loose and malleable yet has great strength under tension.  

4.  It can be woven in a variety of metals, gauges and mesh sizes.  

5.  It is seamless...continuous.  

Quotations on Chain-link Sculptures


     "Duchamp’s found object sculptures and the Minimalists’ use of industrial materials are the predecessors of his turning of a mundane and slightly obnoxious material, chain-link fencing, into art." Mary McCoy

The New York Times, Dec. 16, 2007, Modern Twist to an Age-Old Idea;

“Other artists in the exhibition make more conventional-looking enclosures. Mr. Ruppert makes baskets out of galvanized steel and aluminum chain-link fencing. These are monumental works of assemblage art, the baskets sometimes more than 10 feet high and 12 feet wide. They are really more like cages than baskets, containing and visualizing for viewers a sense of empty space.

Mr. Ruppert writes in a statement in the exhibition catalog that the use of chain-link fencing was influenced by the urban environment of his studio; he is the chairman of the art department at the University of Maryland in College Park and lives in Baltimore. This connection hints at other kinds of meanings, specifically a darker, more dangerous world that pulses beneath the clean, shiny surface of the sculptures.”     Benjamin Genocchio

The Baltimore Sun, June 1994,     "Chain-link fencing is utilitarian ordinarily ugly, and it doesn’t carry the happiest of connotations.  One thinks of keeping things penned such as vicious dogs.

What a pleasant surprise. then to walk into Maryland Art Place and find that John Ruppert has taken this material and made it into sculptures that are graceful, light in feeling and even suggestive of melodious movement.

This is a medium that no doubt has its limitations, but Ruppert has shown uncommon imagination both in using it in the first place and in ways in which he has used it."               John Dorsey                                                                            

The Chicago Reader, June 1996,   "The ease with which Ruppert uses industrial materials can be seen in some of the pieces that aren’t cast.  Three sculptures use chain-link fencing.   But instead of emphasizing its linearity of using it to seal off spaces, he shapes it into curved forms that create a complex rhetoric between inside and out, Chamber is an elegant bulb open at the top, inviting a mind’s - eye passage through it; the lacy shadow it casts on the floor ties it to the surrounding space.  For Ruppert, the fence pieces are about "grander forces of nature than you can really comprehend".  Fred Camper