Ursula von Rydingsvard

2016, Brooklyn

I have sometimes been asked why I make art. It is not a question I find easy to answer with any kind of clarity, but I will try to poke around some possibilities.

Why Do I Make Art?

Mostly, to survive.

To ease my high anxiety, to numb myself with the labor and the focus of building my work.

Objects, or the process by which I concretize my ideas, feel so good.

Because I invariably, especially with my monstrous pieces, run into intense anxiety moments from which I have to unravel myself.

Because there’s a pleasure in it.

Because there’s pain in it.

Because I endure a hefty load of self-doubt.

Because I have confidence in the possibility of seeing this work through.

Because I see life as being full of abominations.

Because life is full of marvels close to miracles.

Because I still don’t get who I am.

Because I will never get who I am.

Because my deepest admiration goes to those who have made art that has interested me.

Because I want attention from those who make good art.

Because I need to use both my body and my mind. The labor of my body is what keeps me awake and alive… what numbs me and offers a kind of veneer between me and the things in life that are painful to face.

Because visuals – that which I perceive through my eyes – are an extraordinarily important part of my life.

Because I don’t want to be doing anything else with my life – the building of my artwork feels like the most consequential thing I could be doing with my time.

Because I can run into a world of my making, both physically and mentally.

Because I like working with a group of assistants who become another kind of family.

Because I like the daily rhythm of going to my studio.

Because it’s a place to put my pain, my sadness.

Because there’s a constant hope inside of me that this process will heal me, my family, and the world.

Because it helps fight my inertia.

Because I like embroidering around my long-ago Polish fantasies.

Because I can reach into the future with my work.

Because I constantly need to try to better understand the immense suffering and pain of my family that I never seem to be able to really understand.

And also because I want to get answers to questions for which I know there are no answers.

Ursula von Rydingsvard