Kingdom Animalia
January 7 - February 6, 2000
Roswell Museum and Art Center
Roswell, New Mexico/USA

[] Like a river changing the vagaries of its course, Maria Rucker's work has 
been carving a new channel during her tenure in Roswell. Long a stone sculptor,
in the past her forms tended toward the highly geometric - whether recognizable 
or not. Yet her new work embraces a newfound set of biological concerns. Gone 
are the cold hard lines insisting on basic geometry.  In their stead have come 
nuanced traces of animal forms recognizable as distinct species.

She finds the stone herself, often picking up local material discarded or 
unnoticed by others. Culling the offal of highway construction, or seizing the 
rock in the middle of a field, she finds in the wake of human presence beautiful
chunks of alabaster, limestone and lava. From them she carves and polishes a 
hidden reality, and reveals the underlying structure of distinct creatures 
coming forth from the stone. It is as if these creatures have been liberated 
from their matrix, and revealed to the world as a fresh manifestation of some-
thing we already sense.

These are glipses, not whole beasts; parts hinting at a greater whole. Teeth. 
Claws. Tusks. Beaks. Hooves. Paws. Noses. From these one can make out the 
recognizable forms of a menagerie of llamas, cows, dogs, horses, bats, humans. 
They are reminiscent of a fossil record, where the attributes of the beast lend
a mysterious identity that melds stone, the hand of the artist, and the 
collective patterns of our primal brain into an aesthetic whole.

Rucker's works are beautiful, polished stone sculptures; living within a long-
standing tradition of the western world as old as the notion of "art" itself. 
Carefully crafted and refined, her work exhibits a well developed sense of 
material that displays her love of stone for its durability. Her new sculptures 
are strong pieces; at once compelling and yet somehow comforting to look at. 
Seemingly they call back into the deep recesses of our brains, searching for 
ancient roots beyond our modern identities.

Michael J. Riley, Ph.D. Assistant Director

> print version