“I’ve always done the kind of art where people look at it and say, ‘That looks like ovaries,’ said Carla Avruch, who is giving away 70 drawings Friday night at Bushwick’s Sardine gallery. “That’s the curse of the female artist.”
This time last year, Avruch was on a six-week solo excursion in Colombia, one of 20 countries she’s visited. Staying at a paramilitary base-turned-hostel with panoramic views of both the Sierra Nevada and the Caribbean Sea, she was understandably inspired to draw. Day after day, she sat outside sketching and listening to howler monkeys.
Back in New York, Avruch realized that she wasn’t drawing much anymore. She brought her pens and Bristol board to Maria Hernandez Park. “A lot of people come up to you and ask questions,” she said. “It was really natural to do a drawing and give it away.” Some drawings took up to five hours to complete. “When you look at it as a spiritual practice, it feels unnecessary to attach a monetary value to it.”
With the modest goal of incorporating drawing back into her life, Avruca began working on a series called “la ritualist.” The drawings are “non-representational images that suggest natural forms.” Translation: “I’m not trying to make a bird, I’m not trying for a concept like that,” she said, acknowledging that the longer she works, the more the drawing starts to look like something.
“When I started this project, I thought I would get to 10 and peter out, she said.” Not so. In total, “la ritualist” is comprised of nearly 150 drawings. She’s already given away about half, and she wants the rest to find homes later this week.
Sardine’s walls will resemble a clothesline, and gallery-goers are encouraged to unpin their favorites as keepsakes. “Honestly, this project is kind of an exercise in gratitude,” she said.Now thirty-three, Avruch grew up in Fairfax, VA, and studied painting at nearby James Madison University. She lives in Ridgewood, Queens and commutes to Bushwick to paint in her shared studio space and work at Miles, which will provide drinks from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. along with Café Ghia. “I’ve sold a couple of random pieces and shown stuff around, but this is kind of the first time I’ve tried to put my art out there to be active,” she said.
Asked whether she seems to conjure certain forms in her abstract art, Avruch admitted that she does see quite a few birds. “I don’t have a general interest in birds,” she said. “I actually hate birds. I’ve been pooped on like five times.”
Visit Avruch’s website to see “la ritualist” in it’s entirety.
Correction: an earlier version of this post was revised to correct an error. Sorry, folks, no free food.