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Rubber Lady and Richard Rudisill

Rubber Lady and Richard Rudisill

Artist: Nancy Sutor (American, born 1953)
Subject Matter: Richard Rudisill (American, 1932 - 2011)
Subject Matter: Rubber Lady (American, active 1978 - 1999)
Date: 1982
Medium: xerographic copy
Dimensions:
Image: 9 7/16 × 6 1/4 in. (24 × 15.9 cm)
Image (With border): 9 7/8 × 6 5/8 in. (25.1 × 16.8 cm)
Support: 11 3/4 × 8 1/2 in. (29.8 × 21.6 cm)
Mat: 17 × 14 in. (43.2 × 35.6 cm)
Classification: Photograph
Credit Line: Wayne R. Lazorik University Study Collection, Gift of Richard Rudisill, 1996
Keywords and Associated Locations:
Object number: 1996.59.64
Description
Pictured is photographer and photo-historian Richard Rudisill (1932-2011) with a figure known as Rubber Lady. Rudisill was widely recognized for his scholarship, working as a professor at the University of New Mexico for a time and for more than thirty years as a photographic historian at the Photo Archive of the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. His publications include Mirror Image: The Influence of the Daguerreotype on American Society and Photographers: A Source Book for Historical Research (with Peter Palmquist), Photographers of the New Mexico Territory, 1854-1912. He published Edward S. Curtis, John Candelario, and The Portrait with Arthur Olivas, who was his colleague at the Photo Archive. Some of Rudisill’s photographs are in the museum’s collection.
Rubber Lady is a persona created in 1978 in protest over the censorship of an exhibition at the museum. In October 1978, the New Mexico Museum of Art was to host its first exhibition of installation art — titled, simply, Installations — as part of the citywide Santa Fe Festival of Arts. The exhibition, organized by curator MaLin Wilson-Powell, never opened. During the installation process, Bradford Smith’s piece — a pair of humanoid rubber figures connected by a long rubber hose to a separate installation by Doris Cross — was deemed obscene and Smith was asked to remove it. In protest, some of the artists removed their work from the show, while others were not sure how to proceed. One proposed solution by the museum’s administration was to display Smith’s work in the men’s basement restroom, with a warning sign to warn about potentially objectionable viewing material. The artist declined to exhibit in the restroom and the show was canceled. All of the artists removed their installations from the building except for Roger Sweet, who threatened legal action if the museum took down his partially constructed 1950s-style bomb shelter. When a show of contemporary art from the museum’s collection opened in place of Installations, Sweet’s work was hidden behind a false wall. Only those who knew about the canceled show understood that anything was amiss. Jackie M, now a well-known arts educator and advocate in Santa Fe, was a young art-history graduate student with a part-time job in the museum gift shop. To focus attention on the censored show, she dressed in a black rubber suit Smith had made for a prior gallery exhibition, donned a featureless face mask, and during the opening knelt in front of the false wall and placed flowers on the floor. At the time, no one knew it was her. “It was for the death of the exhibition, is how I understood it,” Wilson-Powell said involving a piece with rubber tubing which was censored by being hidden by a wall. On occasion in later years, Rubber Lady has appeared at public events in Santa Fe as dressed in black rubber with a white face mask and boots. Rubber Lady does not speak.
Not on view