Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator Welcomes VAN Exhibition Residency Artist Rontherin Ratliff

July 20, 2015  •  3 minute read


Rontherin Ratliff REVOLVE, 2012 installation view Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

by Rebekah Lanae Lengel Visual artist Rontherin Ratliff is known for creating textural sculpture work that examines contemporary society. Working with wood, found objects and other materials, Ratliff was in residence in Miami with Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator (DVACI) for four weeks, creating new work and exploring Miami’s unique culture. His work there is supported by the Adeline Edwards Foundation and the Visual Artists Network (VAN) Exhibition Residency program. Born and raised in New Orleans, Ratliff comes from a family of makers and artists. With a background in carpentry, he worked in the commercial realm before beginning his career as a self-taught artist. Ratliff was excited about the artistic freedom this residency offered. “I look to continue my practice of exploring the understanding of the meaning and importance of discarded objects and their capacity to suggest another possibility through their use in my work. My sculptural works have often been in response to external entities, either as public art commissions or site-specific installations. At this stage in my personal practice, this residency affords me the opportunity to advance towards greater personal expression rather than responding to external beliefs.” “Coming here, the goal was just to make work that had no theme other than just doing something I want to share,” he explains about the goals he has in mind for his time in Miami. “I spend a lot of time trying to find narratives in the work that I do, and most of the time it’s trying to respond to events, to things that are going on, if not in my life, than in the lives of people around me. I just want to take this time to look at what is going on in my life and how that can come out in my art. That’s a process I haven’t applied to art making, having it be extremely personal,” Ratliff shares. Ratliff spent his first week in Miami setting up his studio and getting himself acclimatized with Miami and its unique rhythm and flow. During his ventures into various neighborhoods, he kept an eye out for objects and materials that he could incorporate into his work, making particular note of the disparity between Miami’s concrete canyons and the wooden enclaves of his hometown. “I work with a lot of wood. It seems that people are constantly renovating homes in New Orleans, so I have all the materials I need to work with. My background is in carpentry so I’m comfortable with wood. I’ve been experimenting with metal lately but I’m not as comfortable with it yet. I’m working with glass too, glass panes and doing some etching and carving into the glass. Those are the materials I have been scouting out.” With several artistic residencies under his belt, he felt prepared for his time with Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator and showing at the end of June. “Through the previous residencies I learned that a lot of my work is about the process. It’s about the materials I use and how I respond to them and how I’m able to use them to say what it is I’m trying to say. That’s something I learned about myself through the previous residency; so I guess too there is a hope to see what else there is to learn about my own process of art making.” Ratliff’s work in Miami was supported by VAN, DVCAI and the Adeline Edwards Foundation. Many thanks to Ann Kaufman for her support. Learn more about the artist at www.rontherin.com. July 2015 The Visual Artists Network is supported the Andy Warhol Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Joan Mitchell Foundation. logo_warhol logo_joanmitchel fordlogo