Sculptor Alison Ruttan sends a powerful anti-war message with her work in the “Unmaking of Places and Histories” exhibit that is currently at the University Galleries of Illinois State University in Normal.

Organized by the University Galleries’ chief curator, Kendra Paitz, the exhibit features several new works for which Ruttan’s trademark ceramic buildings and debris were placed on embedded within found furniture. Blue-glazed ruins reach skyward from a black wooden dresser, while gray rubble takes over an open drawer of white nightstand.

But to top it all off, Ruttan wrought striking destruction upon the ceramic through BB gunshots, mirroring the destruction of war to scale.

  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries
  • Sculpture reveals the architectural scars of conflict at ISU Galleries

Ruttan draws on the histories of art, architecture and warfare in showcasing the aftermath of conflicts in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. It is a way of “bearing witness from here,” Ruttan says.

Ruttan is a Chicago-based artist and associate professor of contemporary practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited in Illinois and around the globe – most notably at the Chicago Cultural Center and the Frist Art Museum in Nashville.

The exhibit is free and open to the public through Dec. 15.