Ruth Thomas is a Swiss-born textile and fiber artist currently based in Lyon, France. In her work, she translates predetermined situations and circumstances into colours, shapes and patterns by means of various textile materials and techniques.
The concepts behind the works emerge through playful exploration of given systems such as language and numbers, statistics and facts. The collecting of data, often from the artist's own life, can extend over a long period, thus resulting in long-term projects.
The approach is always about making the invisible visible, the intangible tangible. About transforming abstract values into concrete forms. About capturing and visualising time. About the relationship between control and chance, predictability and surprise.
Artist and concept are equally important for the outcome. The artist develops the concept. The concept defines the outcome. Once the concept is fixed, the artist no longer has any influence on the outcome, which is fully known only after completion.
The execution is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process: outdated manual techniques require an outdated amount of time. While developing the concept, the artist acts as an artist. While executing the concept, the artist acts as an artisan.
The finished work consists of thoughts and time, materialised as surface and pattern. It detaches itself from the underlying concept and develops an aesthetic life of its own. The concept is the structure for the outcome that no longer needs the concept.
Modern ideas vs. ancient techniques. Mostly fast project development vs. always slow project execution. Artist-determined concept with fixed logic vs. concept-determined outcome with own logic. These contrasts are ever-present in the work of Ruth Thomas.
Photo: Stéphanie Bonn