When presented with the opportunity to install any work of my choosing for a billboard size (8’x19′) installation above Sweetwater Surf Shop in the heart of Wrightsville Beach NC, a few major questions came to mind. What am I going to show?  What kind of statement do I want to make? How am I going to make the piece fit this unique space? After contemplation, I discovered the answers to these tough questions in the guiding principles of minimalism, forced perspective, and color theory.

minimalism: Given that the space is very large and outdoors, special considerations needed to be made as to how the piece would look when viewed at various distances.  Due to this factor, I determined a piece with minimal content structure would be best to extend visual impact to all at multiple distances, so as not to confuse the viewer with content from afar.  This “less is more” approach also made sense when considering the necessity of the work to complement the organic line structure of the building.  The chosen piece must have strong geometric components.

forced perspective: To hold elements of the modern, I needed to chose a piece that manipulated perspectives when the scale was enlarged. Currently, my methodical approach to ocean photography is centered on the technical use of forced perspective.  I implement this technique through the use of unconventional lenses that compress and manipulate the scale of the water in motion.  As these images are enlarged, their ability to produce the illusion of size increases with the of the size of the installation.  For example, a 2′ wave shot with the applied techniques and enlarged to scale at 18′ in length will hold the visual illusion of an 18′ wave.

color theory: Finally, since the work will be in a predominantly blue environment (the building is blue, the sky is blue, etc.) I determined that a blue monochromatic image would be essential to harmony and flow.  A further point regarding the use of blue is that it is recognized as the most preferred color of humans across cultures worldwide when compared to all colors in the color wheel.
Utilizing this self imposed three-point checklist, the work that I need to show became crystal clear to me.  See my selection installed above this text and in it’s full frame below.

-Sean D. Ruttkay

Sea Line 

Eight months ago I walked into Glen Meade Center for Women’s Health for my sons first trimester ultrasound and was immediately taken back by the art décor.  In the lobby, exam rooms, and halls there were impressionist Tuscan landscape prints coupled with classic new born baby shots on stretch canvases. Art of this variety was very disconcerting to see in a healthcare space such as this.

Evidence-based art or EBD, which is the study of emphasizing credible evidence to influence design in the healthcare setting to improve patient and staff well being, patient healing, stress reduction, and safety, explicitly recommends vivid and vibrant images of nature.  Only art that is derived from the natural world, that can sooth, calm, and bring to ease those who inhabit the intrinsically stressful healthcare environment.  Art work of newborns and impressionist paintings do not deliver these benefits and can even cause harm to patients.

Consider the setting of the Women’s Clinic where the artwork of newborns is being displayed. This is a place where families sometimes have to hear tragic news concerning their new born child.  Staring at a piece of art depicting a healthy newborn while hearing intense and life changing news can not only be unpleasant but may even cause added duress to patient or family members. With this in mind, I wanted to make a change for the better for both the patients and healthcare staff.

Now eight months later, after working a variety of channels, I am pleased to announce that Glen Meade Center for Women’s Health has purchased and installed 25 of my pieces that encapsulate this holistic evidence based approach to art.  Since the installation, I have received an outpouring of positive feedback from patients, doctors, and nurses, who have experienced the new installations in the space.   I am confident that this is a change that truly benefits both the patient and the care provider.

– Sean D. Ruttkay