Film Explores an Artist’s Past and Passions

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Film still from “Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own.” Von Rydingsvard walking beside her work "Saint Martin's Dream," in Battery Park, New York, 1980.

As an artist, Ursula von Rydingsvard’s emotionally powerful work was informed by a childhood spent in wartime Germany. On Friday, February 14, a 6 p.m., the Parrish Art Museum screens director Daniel Traub’s 2019 film “Ursula Von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own,” a documentary that follows the New York-based contemporary artist as she completes recent commissions for MIT and Princeton University.

The film explores von Rydingsvard’s early struggles, passion, and profound drive to become an artist. Told mostly through the artist’s own voice, “Into Her Own” includes interviews with colleagues, family members, and close friends who offer additional perspective on her life and art. Ursula von Rydingsvard will attend the event and join a conversation with Parrish director Terrie Sultan following the screening, which is co-presented with Hamptons Doc Fest as part of “The Artist’s Lens” series at the museum.

“I’m delighted to welcome Ursula von Rydingsvard in person to talk about her life and art, and to present this visually stunning film that tells the deeply moving story of an extraordinary woman artist who has overcome so many obstacles,” said Corinne Erni, senior curator of ArtsReach and special projects at the Parrish, “a perfect tribute to Valentine’s Day and to celebrate passion, love, and persistence.”

Von Rydingsvard was born in Nazi Germany in 1942 to a Polish mother and Ukrainian father who was conscripted into forced labor, working the land during World War II. After the war, the family was compelled to move from one refugee camp for displaced Poles to another before emigrating to the U.S. in 1950.

These early experiences and persistent memories created in the artist a respect for the dignity of labor and for organic materials — particularly wood — the sole building element of the barracks where she, her six siblings, and her parents lived. It also engendered in the artist the deep sense of loss and pain that informs her work and infuses it with emotional potency.

Von Rydingsvard’s work is largely focused on towering cedar structures with intricate networks of individual beams, shaped by sharp and lyrical cuts and glued together to form sensuous, puzzle-like surfaces. While abstract at its core, the work takes visual cues from the landscape, the human body, and utilitarian objects, and demonstrates an interest in the point where the man-made meets nature.

Admission to the screening is $15 ($5 Parrish members and students). The Parrish Art Museum is at 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill. For more information visit parrishart.org.

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