Donna Ruff’s intricate, labor intensive hand cut templates transform the most pedestrian form of media – the newspaper – into multicultural emblems of humankind’s struggle for safety and shelter. Using the front pages of The New York Times as her canvas, Ruff, a former graphic designer, creates unique patterns comprised of circles and squares configured into lacey overlays based on Moorish architectural and tile designs. Carefully sliced into the layout of the nearly weightless substrate of newsprint, the composition of the motifs allows for information to be removed while also augmenting and furthering the stories’ messages. In a recent statement Ruff wrote,I started this body of work in 2011, when news of the Arab Spring offered scenes of both struggle and optimism. I chose patterns suggestive of Moorish tile work and screens found in the Middle East and parts of Spain and Africa. Their geometric forms are congruent with the architectural layout of the page itself, and privilege image over text.
For all the news that is fit to print, Ruff finds room to edit, and in so doing, tells a more complete story. The product of her cultural and artistic background, her works are unparalleled and categorically her own inventions.