Known for his politically expressive works, artist Sterling Ruby has ventured into the world of fashion, launching his own label, S. R. Studio. LA. CA. Holding much recognition for a decade of documentative installations that toyed with American history, violence and other topics of social concern, the contemporary artist has swapped brush, paint and ceramics for more wearable materials, making his debut at Pitti Uomo’s special guest showcase for Spring/Summer 2020 in Florence, featuring ready-to-wear womenswear, menswear and accessories.
The common political themes in his work are largely derived from elements of Ruby’s upbringing: born in an American Air Force Base in Bitburg, Germany, and later working in construction briefly before embarking on art studies in higher education. Ruby graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in 1996, then graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002 and attended the MFA programme at the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, California. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Ruby would play with his mother’s sewing machine, a hobby that would lead to a collaboration with Raf Simons in 2014 for a Fall/Winter menswear collection that birthed the bleached-denim signature style that now largely informs Ruby’s own designs. In 2017, Ruby was instrumental in redesigning Calvin Klein ’s New York flagship boutique, bringing in paint-splashed interiors created by the artist.
The idea for Ruby’s line stems from the one-of-a-kind pieces he wore when working in his studio. Producing colour-saturated, bleached and painted polyurethane sculptures along with ceramics, graffiti paintings and video installations, Ruby wore studio garments that were destroyed as a by-product of his creation process. As of June 2019, garments run across four different lines, also carried by Ssense, including denim basics, hand-painted garments and pieces made of fabrics from Ruby’s studio.
Ruby’s art installations are displayed worldwide in dozens of solo and group exhibitions, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among others.