Bethany Rusen

Artist Statement

I am interested in exploring the body as an interface for how we navigate the world, how we use it to form relationships with ourselves and with others, and how it functions within our visual culture to help us more fully understand ourselves and the society we move through. The physical body is the lens through which I experience my own sense of self; my psychological and emotional state is intimately tied to the state of my physical body, whether it is comfortable, lonely, confident or threatened. The acute sensitivity of my body fascinates me, and has led me to create objects that attempt to capture how it feels to live inside my skin.

I draw on a variety of materials, from jersey knit fabric to wallpaper paste, to create mixed media sculptural objects. I employ time, gravity and a carefully cultivated installation space as a conceptual framework in which my pieces can live. The objects that I make are still and quiet, with an almost meditative presence. I have always been comforted by quiet, still things, with their ability to make us calm and quiet, to slow us down and give us pause. There is much in my work that hints at a history of conflict and strife - things that are stitched, tied, stretched and hung - but these tribulations have healed. I am addressing a trauma whose time has passed, and what is left is a quiet intimacy and an appeal for sensitivity and understanding for the experiences that these objects have had.

This work is created out of an abundance of feeling; feeling that frequently overwhelms me with its beauty and violence. I want to address the full spectrum of intense, emotional physicality that runs through my body like it was a live wire; and transmit this intensity to my work. Through my work, I seek to more fully understand body experience as enormously complicated and multi-faceted, simultaneously deep, rich, conflicted and beautiful.


Bethany Rusen draws on a wide variety of interests, materials, theories, and personal histories to construct her mixed media site-responsive sculptural objects. Her work seeks to explore the visceral and emotional aspects of body experience.

Rusen graduated with a BFA in ceramics from Tyler School of Art in 2003 and earned her MFA in ceramics from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2010. Her work has been exhibited nationally at a variety of venues, including

Saratoga Clay Arts Center, Boston University and The Clay Studio. She has completed residencies at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.

In her spare time, she likes to go through other people’s trash, take her greyhounds to the dog park and scour the internet for Richard Nixon memorabilia. She is currently the ceramics studio technician at Main Line Art Center in Haverford, PA and lives in a townhouse in West Philadelphia full of strange things. Her hair is usually pink.


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