MIPCES Exhibition: Ruth Anne Grove & Michael Grove

Ruth Anne Grove, “Waiting to Dispappear” Mural, 1997, approx 12 feet wide

wall mural, approx 15 feet wide

We all know and can appreciate the rallying cry of the 1970’s environmental movement, “Small is Beautiful.” Many polymer artists have put that aphorism into practice. Cynthia Toops made “small is beautiful” into what you might call a devotional practice, a religious worship.

So when the director of the OCCC extended the MIPCES challenge to create something that really “pushed the envelope,” Ruth Anne and Michael Grove immediately took up that challenge by considering exactly the opposite artistic approach, asking “Can’t Supersized be Beautiful?” Each of them began planning monumental sculptures of a size that had never been previously attempted in polymer.

Ruth Anne Grove, artist with Masks, 1997In the end, Ruth Anne presented this mural piece called “Waiting to Disappear.” The wall piece consisted of four separate sections which were positioned on the wall to create these two tumbling figures. Each section measured approximately 3-feet at its widest dimension, the tightest fit possible for curing in a kitchen oven. Michael Grove, artist with “Incomplete Wall”, 1997The figure on the right, you’ll note, bears a distinct resemblance to Michael himself. The female figure on the left seems to be an oblique reference to Ruth Anne although she has not spoke in depth about this piece.

Michael Grove, Incomplete Wall, 1997


approx. 5 feet tall

Always the one to think BIG, Michael’s initial concept was to make a huge polymer wall with a power connection to an interactive sound loop. The sound element was eventually abandoned, but the sheer size and weight of the wall Michael constructed provided a “WOW” experience for MIPCES artists and attendees alike.

The wall was comprised of dozens of individual bricks, each a block of chopped scrap polymer pebbles with an internal network of telephone wire as the binding agent. When fully assembled, the sculpture weighed in at nearly one thousand pounds. Only after the piece was completed did Michael think about what the air freight was going to cost from San Francisco to Newark. Luckily for us all, I had a dear friend who owned a trucking business and loved the idea of coming to the aid of artists in need.

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.