Paul Rucker

Visual artist, cellist
Paul Rucker creates art that explores issues related to mass incarceration, racially-motivated violence, police brutality and the continuing impact of slavery in the US.

Why you should listen

Paul Rucker is a visual artist, composer, and musician who often combines media, integrating live performance, sound, original compositions and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research and basic human emotions surrounding particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on the Prison Industrial Complex and the many issues accompanying incarceration in its relationship to slavery. He has presented performances and visual art exhibitions across the country and has collaborated with educational institutions to address the issue of mass incarceration. Presentations have taken place in schools, active prisons and also inactive prisons such as Alcatraz.

His largest installation to date, REWIND, garnered praise from Baltimore Magazine awarding Rucker "Best Artist 2015." Additionally, REWIND received "Best Solo Show 2015" and "#1 Art Show of 2015" from Baltimore City Paper, reviews by The Huffington Post, Artnet News, Washington Post, The Root and The Real News Network. Rucker has received numerous grants, awards and residencies for visual art and music. He is a 2012 Creative Capital Grantee in visual art as well as a 2014 and 2018 MAP (Multi-Arts Production) Fund Grantee for performance. In 2015 he received a prestigious Joan Mitchell Painters & Sculptors Grant as well as the Mary Sawyer Baker Award. In 2016 Paul received the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist fellowship and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, for which he is the first artist in residence at the new National Museum of African American Culture.

Residencies include MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, Ucross Foundation, Art OMI, Banff Centre, Pilchuck Glass School, Rauschenberg Residency, Joan Mitchell Residency, Hemera Artist Retreat, Air Serembe, Creative Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.  In 2013-2015, he was the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation Artist in Residence and Research Fellow at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He was most recently awarded a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2018 TED Fellowship and the 2018 Arts Innovator Award from the Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation and Artist Trust. Rucker is an iCubed Arts Fellow embedded at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.

More news and ideas from Paul Rucker

Live from TED2018

Into the fray, undaunted: Notes from TED Fellows Session 2 at TED2018

April 11, 2018

To commence TED Fellows Session 2, multi-hyphenate Paul Rucker takes the stage with his cello. (Spoiler alert: you will see him later in this writeup showcasing another artform.) Inspired by his mother, who learned to play the organ through a mail-order course, Rucker taught himself how to play this instrument. But right here on the […]

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