Ursula von Rydingsvard
“Thinking as a survivor.”
Ursula von Rydingsvard is perhaps one of the most recognized sculptors working today. Her monumental creations, often made from hundreds—even thousands—of small pieces of wood have been shown at the Venice Biennale and at Storm King Art Center in upstate New York, and she has recently completed a commission for the Princeton University campus. But her early life in no way predicted her future accomplishments. Born in Germany in 1942, she spent her first eight years in refugee camps and her early childhood in rural Connecticut.
It wasn’t until she was in her thirties and studying for her MFA at Columbia that her life as an artist truly began, but for a time she lived on food stamps and held down six teaching jobs while raising a child as a single mother. Von Rydingsvard talks to us about her remarkable journey, her process as a sculptor, and “thinking as a survivor.”
A video of another incredible journey—that of her sculptures from Yorkshire Sculpture Park to Venice last summer—can be seen below: