Behind the Scenes: Seeing blue with artist Ian Ruffino

By Columbus Alive
From the October 25, 2012 edition

Ian Ruffino has been blue since he was 19 years old. He’s spent nearly a decade hanging blue collared shirts in his closet, sleeping wrapped in warm blue sheets, and dyeing his own blue shoes.

The artist doesn’t trumpet this affectation. His tailor is the only person who’s noticed outright that his entire wardrobe is a single color. If gimmicky pops-and-locks on one side of the spectrum, Ruffino stands quietly on the opposite.

Ruffino didn’t pick blue. It picked him.

He was wearing it most of the time before he even noticed the sartorial decision had been made. The color now plays a major role in the narrative of Ruffino’s life — sometimes blue is the walk-on, other times the hero, other times the antagonist. He tries not to make it the plot.

Why blue?

“I don’t have an answer for you,” he said. “I’m completely comfortable leaving it open to that.”

There are connections to blue’s natural and cultural applications — water and the working class. Wearing only one color helped him combat personal consumerism. There are attractive spiritual aspects to the color. Blue has challenged him to explore different levels of consciousness and the ideas they present.

“Sleep” is a new exhibit at the Canzani Center Gallery of Ruffino’s blue-centric multi-media artworks. The two-room show is an autobiography of sorts. It leads viewers through a timeline of how this single-hued lifestyle has impacted Ruffino’s art. “Blue Outfit, Winter” is a pulverized, silkscreened and embossed piece made from every blue item he wore throughout two winters, including socks and underwear.

See “Sleep” and you’ll sense that blue is the most fitting color for Ruffino and his art. Both are calming but introspective, kind but complex; old souls with waters that run deep and sometimes suddenly and fearlessly dark.