About The Artist
"Life is a constant experiment with lots of excrement." - Mallory Ruff
(Photo credit: Jeff Rollinger)
Mallory Paige Ruff grew up in the small town of Delta, Pennsylvania and has spent most of her life trying to live it down. At the age of eighteen she forced herself out into the big, wide world where she spent the years following high school traveling about the United States via hitched rides and freight trains. A modern day hobo, if you will.
After many trips around the highway systems of America, Mallory finally settled her itchy feet back home where she began. She decided at the age of twenty-one that it was time for a new challenge - academia. She began her studies at Harford Community College on a whim. She had identified herself as an artist from a young age and focused intensely on it all through grade school so it seemed only natural to study art as an adult. She chose to study photography.
"I’ve always been very process oriented. I want to know how things (and people) work, why they do the things they do. But since I’ve never been very handy with traditional mechanics and have always been terrible at math, engineering was obviously off the list.
I had taken a pin-hole photography class at Pennsylvania College Of Art and Design back in high school. I loved the constant surprises it provided. The process of building my own camera from a cardboard box made me feel like anything was possible. I wanted to better understand how film worked and how the science of light could make art. And so began my stay at HCC.
I worked night shifts at a gas station and took classes during the day. It turned out that I was actually very adept at that whole higher education thing. I aced my gen eds and deeply enjoyed my art courses. I was hooked.”
After achieving success on the community college level, Mallory decided it was finally time to take the leap into something new. She applied and was accepted to Towson University and began a new leg of her journey - printmaking.
"I know I haven’t run the course of photography. That is a area of expertise that will take a lifetime to achieve. I still work on it every day. But with the large scale shift toward digital photography, I felt like perfecting the traditional techniques was a lost cause. I’d already done my fair share of exploration with film and different formats and I wanted to learn something new. Something to combine with photography. I needed to expand my skill set not only for myself but for my future as an artist. I’ve changed my photographic focus toward DSLRs and work on perfecting that in my own time. I still play around with film now and then but not like I used to. The change to printmaking is an attempt to learn a new process. Prints are a medium that have withstood the test of time, just like photography. It’s ever-growing and I feel it syncs very well with my photographic sensibilities. "
Her studies at Towson University have only just begun. The new world of printmaking is proving to be just as fascinating to her as photography.
"I love it. It’s all so exciting. There are so many things I want to learn. I want to try on all the hats the art world has to offer. I haven’t perfected a damn thing yet but I’m ok with that. Once you reach perfection there’s no point in living any longer, right? I’m constantly learning something new."
Now that she’s getting older she’s starting to understand what is actually valuable in life: Comfort.
To live a comfortable and uncomplicated life is the main goal of her existence at this point in her journey. It is probably the hardest goal to achieve in the hectic and stressful world we all occupy in this place and time.
Through her art she attempts to explore and expand on the definition of beauty because it’s the only thing that she finds comfort in. Art is the escape that helps her discover tiny moments of peace.
"The world can be a cruel and unrelenting place but with a photograph, a drawing, or a print or whatever I create that day I can step outside of it. Just by looking at the work I create I can have a moment to myself. I can be satisfied with the world I live in because that piece of art is now in it. It doesn’t have to be particularly good or perfect, it just has to be. It becomes a stepping stone to something new. It takes you on a journey when you’re feet aren’t able to move.
I don’t make art so I can own a house or feed myself. I make it because while I’m trying to house and feed myself I can have something pretty to look at. Blank walls are a prison for your body and mind. If I can’t be free to roam the countryside I need to at least be free to roam my own internal path.”
Mallory has been working very hard to achieve her academic goals. Now that she’s nearing the end of her educational journey it’s time to explore new opportunities. The next logical thing for her to do is to step out into the career world.
"Making a living as an artist is the next logical step. Logical steps have never been high on my do to list until recently but I feel like it’s a challenge worth accepting. I need to prove to myself that I can do it. I hope to get an internship this summer and really sink my teeth into this new part of my life. I’ve been freelancing for a while now and working odd jobs - portraits, weddings, and even video production. From that experience I’ve discovered that I really enjoy being self-employed. The ultimate goal is to create a business of my own. And get a Masters. I’d like to teach one day as well."
As for the future of her art:
"I’ve done a lot of dabbling and I’ll admit it’s all been very random; Bouncing from assignment to assignment and never really having the time or mental space to really dig my heels into an idea and stick with it. It gets exhausting. I’m hoping once I break free from the college cycle I’ll finally be able to perfect my own personal style. Right now I’m learning all the tools I need to do that. It’s been a fun ride and I look forward to seeing where it all culminates."
Written by Mallory Ruff in the first and third person - because it’s fun to talk to yourself about yourself.