Featured Artist Member

Featured Artist Member honors the artist members of Berkeley Art Center, highlighting the breadth and variety of mediums, processes and concepts engaged by our community. Only artists whose memberships are current will be considered. To become a member, please sign up HERE. To fill out our Artist Member Informational Survey , click HERE.


Featured Artist August 2016

Ruth Tabancay

Ruth Tabancay's passion for science led her to study microbiology in college, and after a stint as a hospital laboratory technologist, she went on to medical school. After 11 years in private practice, she left medicine to study art. She is graduate of University of California, Berkeley; University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco; and California College of the Arts. She has been a member of Mercury 20 Gallery in Oakland since 2012 and is the Northern California representative for the Surface Design Association. Her work is in the collection of the Oakland Museum.

Artist Statement

My most recent body of work refers to heat, either in its concept or in the making of the work. Burnt sugar is poured into molds, cooled, then allowed to liquefy. At 5-7 day intervals, new pieces of molded burnt sugar added to existing ones. Older pieces break down with newer ones a reminder of their beginnings in an illustration of time. Sugar cast in the shape of hexagons is arranged into patterns of radial symmetry and molecular structures, in particular of medications used to treat a lung disease that I have. Yarn crocheted using patterns based on hyperbolic geometry creates forms reminiscent of geodes or thunder eggs. Stitched metalized Tyvek® resembles at the same time both molten liquid or hard metal.

The imagery in my largest body of work is informed by the years I spent studying biological sciences and medicine. Shortly after I began making art, I was startled to find in my work forms resembling bacteria, fungi, human cells and tissue–all as seen through a microscope. Ikat weaving appeared as striated muscle; stitched tea bag surfaces, squamous epithelium; random weave basketry, collagen fibers. Micro-organisms I remember working with as a student and in the lab are represented in my latest embroidered works.

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Micro-organism Series, 2016. embroidery in Petri dishes. 1” x 14” x 14”  
Photo: Dana Davis

Basalt Causeway, 2015.
burnt sugar, 48” x 40” x 9”  
Photo: Dana Davis

Geode, 2016. crochet.
18” x 28” x 28”  Photo: Dana Davis


For a list of previously featured Member Artists, click the link for the Index of Featured Artists.