SIUE’s Ruppert Receives Prestigious Award from the International Sculpture Center
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville senior Abbi Ruppert had a different life plan when she chose to pursue higher education. But, like many, Ruppert changed course during her collegiate journey as she identified her true passion, and decided to refocus her studies and training.
Originally a public relations major with an art minor, Ruppert, of Nokomis, is now pursuing a bachelor’s in fine arts with an emphasis in sculpture. Among the accolades she’s received for her creative work is the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center (ISC) for her sculpture entitled “Steal My Ambitions.”
The piece is part of Ruppert’s current body of work, where she analyzes and dissects the female self-sacrifice complex. Made by fabricating a steel armature and stretching it with nylon, her website, abbiruppert.com, describes the sculpture as “balancing the contrast between sharp points and soft edges, exploring opposites of love and pain, of complacency and rage.”
Ruppert credits Thad Duhigg, MFA, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Art and Design, for helping solidify her decision to change course and pursue her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He nominated Ruppert for the ISC award, which recognizes young sculptors and encourages their continued commitment to the field.
“I spent the first three and a half years at SIUE tiptoeing around my love for art, before deciding to fully commit to my practice in spring 2019,” explained Ruppert. “Our encouraging and enthusiastic sculpture professor, Thad Duhigg, played a significant role in my decision to pursue sculpture.”
“I applied to the ISC with my best work,” Ruppert added. “The International Sculpture Center is the most prestigious sculpture organization, so I never expected anything to come from it. But that’s what you do when you’re an artist; you apply for everything, even though you expect a rejection email, and sometimes … you get surprised.”
Twelve students, along with 10 honorable mentions, were selected for this prestigious honor from more than 200 nominees worldwide. Award recipients are participating in an Artsy Online Exclusive exhibition from October 1, 2020-January 31, 2021. Additionally, the artists’ work will be featured in the January/February 2021 issue of the ISC’s Sculpture magazine.
“My success in this award, my public sculpture “Revival,” and all my other art achievements would not have been possible without the help and encouragement from my mentor, Thad, and my sculpture studio classmates,” Ruppert emphasized. “I consider myself lucky to be part of this supportive community. Our department was significantly affected when the pandemic hit, and we were forced out of our second homes in the studio. I am happy to be back in the studio.”
Following her May 2021 graduation, Ruppert plans to attend a three-year Master of Fine Arts program at an accredited university.
Photos: “Steal My Ambitions” by SIUE senior fine arts major Abbi Ruppert.
SIUE’s Abbi Ruppert stands on campus by her installed sculpture, entitled “Revival.”