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Sterling Ruby




Sterling Ruby is born in Bitburg, Germany.

1970s 1973

Sterling Ruby grows up in Baltimore and New Freedom, Pennsylvania.




Sterling Ruby sees the Bruce Nauman retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and considers it a formative experience for his own art.

late 1990s 1999

Amanda Ross-Ho meets Aaron Curry and Sterling Ruby through Ruby’s first wife, Kirsten Stoltmann.


Sterling Ruby moves to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where he meets fellow student Aaron Curry.




Aaron Curry attends SAIC and receives his BFA in 2002 alongside friend and classmate Sterling Ruby. Curry fondly remembers teachers Barbara Rossi and Karl Wirsum.


Sterling Ruby and Melanie Schiff become friends while students in Chicago.

2000s 2000

Sterling Ruby first learns how to work with ceramics in Chicago at a “free form” ceramics class.

2000s 2000

Sterling Ruby works at the Video Data Bank, an organization cofounded by SAIC. In Ruby’s words: “I wasn’t exposed to a lot of video art until I started my employment as a secretary at the Video Data Bank. Prior to Chicago, I studied at a four-year foundation program in Pennsylvania where I did figure and still life drawing for eight hours a day. Needless to say, there was no video art in the curriculum. After being promoted from the VDB front desk, I learned how to edit and wound up dubbing endurance-based performance art for eight hours a day. I was holding the [Vito] Acconci, [Lynda] Benglis, and [Bruce] Nauman master tapes and it was a nice opportunity to learn the history of video art in parallel to watching the history of performance art.”


Sterling Ruby earns his BFA from SAIC.

2000s 2003

Sterling Ruby encourages Amanda Ross-Ho to apply to the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.


Aaron Curry and Sterling Ruby move to California to get their MFAs at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, where Richard Hawkins and Mike Kelley are teachers. Ruby cites Kelley and the exhibition Helter Skelter as reasons he moved to California.


Amanda Ross-Ho moves to Los Angeles for graduate school and lives with Sterling Ruby.


Sterling Ruby’s first solo exhibition, Interior Burnout, is at 1R Gallery in Chicago.

mid-2000s 2004

Sterling Ruby is Mike Kelley’s teaching assistant for three years.


Sterling Ruby has a solo exhibition at the ArtCenter titled Reconfiguration of Monument to Interiority: Learned Helplessness in Students.


Sterling Ruby curates the group exhibition Autonomy at Foxy Production, which includes Aaron Curry and his future wife, Melanie Schiff.

mid-2000s 2005

After graduate school, Sterling Ruby moves to Los Angeles and leases an old warehouse on Fishburn Avenue near Hazard Park in Boyle Heights to use as studio space for himself and other artist friends, including Aaron Curry and Amanda Ross-Ho.

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Amanda Ross-Ho travels to Berlin with Sterling Ruby for the opening of Post Rose: Artists In and Out of the Hazard Park Complex at Galerie Christian Nagel.


Sterling Ruby curates the exhibition Post Rose: Artists in and out of the Hazard Park Complex at Galerie Christian Nagel in Berlin, which includes Aaron Curry and Amanda Ross-Ho.



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Aaron Curry and Sterling Ruby are included in the group exhibition Phantom Limb: Approaches to Painting Today at MCA Chicago.


Melanie Schiff and Sterling Ruby marry.

2010s 2012

Melanie Schiff sets up her studio in Sterling Ruby’s studio warehouse complex in East Los Angeles.

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Aaron Curry, Laura Owens, and Sterling Ruby are included in the group exhibition Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting.


Sterling Ruby retroactively receives his MFA from ArtCenter when Diana Thater takes over as chair of the graduate department.

Related tags

Aaron Curry Mike Kelley Bruce Nauman Laura Owens Amanda Ross-Ho Melanie Schiff Karl Wirsum Art Institute of Chicago ArtCenter Boyle Heights California Chicago Illinois Los Angeles MCA Chicago Pasadena SAIC USC Hairy Who Helter Skelter

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The Hazard Park Complex


Related tags

Aaron Curry Mike Kelley Amanda Ross-Ho Sterling Ruby Art Institute of Chicago ArtCenter California Chicago Los Angeles MCA Chicago Pasadena SAIC USC