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The Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition 2022, Interview with David Ruhlman

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Our annual Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition is up between now and March 26th, 2022, this year Juried by Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Coordinator of the Minnesota Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Nicole Soukup. 2022 marks our 20th year of exhibiting MFA candidates, and this the first year we have extended this opportunity to both MFA programs at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the University of Minnesota.

Please enjoy this series of interviews with the selected artists for this exhibition! Today we're talking to artist, David Ruhlman, who graduated in 2020 with an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Hare Krishna (after Dürer) I, David Ruhlman, 2022

Where do you hail from?

I’m am currently living in Sauk Rapids, MN but my dad was in the military so we moved all over growing up.

How do you find yourself and your work fitting into the Midwest?

I’m not sure, I am still trying to figure out the Midwest.

What are some things you like about your practice? What kickstarts things in the studio for you?

I love the usual daily practice of my work. I am an early bird, so being in the studio before the day begins and having that space & freedom to see what happens.

What kind of elements often show up in your work?

I work almost exclusively in gouache. I love the matte quality and the ability to build up an image. I am drawn to working with intuition and trusting my process. Many of my works, either start as an interesting title or painting an image and see where it takes me. I also have a background and love of art history, so you will see stuff pop up such as the Dürer’s Hare or Courbet’s (Bonjour Monsieur Courbet)

The Shy Occultist , Year 1, David Ruhlman, 2018

What were some themes you were working on before and how/if has grad school has shifted or focused your practice?

I focused on Spiritualism as an artistic practice. I have always been drawn to the esoteric, outliers and strange. I was raised in a slightly strange religious household so it’s the language I understand. During grad school I focused on simple structures /sculptures and trying to gain a better understanding of my practice. Lately I have been painting these structures I was trying to build.

How has the pandemic affected your studio practice?

Not much.

What are you working on now?

I have three different series I am working on. The first ongoing series deals with a painting of two Yogi’s I bought at a yard sale 15 years ago. The artist somewhat crudely painted two Yogi [Bear's]. One the Yogi Bear and other the enlightened Yogi. I thought a lot about the two sides of religion/enlightenment and the story of the trickster.

I am also working on a series titled The Shy Occultist, which is a more personal series. The series started as my mother was in the process of dying. It depicts a person trying to summon/communicate/recreate a life.

Currently I am painting a larger work titled A Bee Stung by Darkness, which I am still very excited about.

Yogi not Yogi, David Ruhlman, 2022

You can follow David on Instagram, @david.ruhlman and see more of their work on their website,

The Suzy Greenberg MFA Exhibition runs from February 26th to March 26th, meet the artists at the opening reception of this show from 6-9pm on Saturday the 26th, and stop by the gallery during normal hours to see this work by David and their talented cohort!

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