Maja Ruznic’s exhibition In the Sliver of the Sun at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos was reminiscent of a dream state, a loose and subdued world of imagination, distant memories, and notions of home and family.
Maja Ruznic: In the Sliver of the Sun
March 6–September 26, 2021
Harwood Museum of Art, Taos
Maja Ruznic’s exhibition In the Sliver of the Sun at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos was reminiscent of a dream state, a loose and subdued world of imagination, distant memories, and notions of home and family. Larger-than-life figures, as if auric bodies, float through these seven paintings, merging with one another and their environs, both of which are often speckled with what appear to be stars and orbs.
Ruznic’s process is revealing. She begins by pouring layers of pigmented stain onto canvas and then, like an excavation, sands until she reaches the surface texture of canvas or linen and the forms that remain. Next, she looks for figures to emerge and, working in oil and acrylic, adds subtle details—a thin line, lips, fingers, a foot, just enough for our minds to fill in the gaps to see a full character, like cloud-watching.
The results are pieces that show a stripping away and suggest something of an underneath, beyond our tangible, everyday reality, behind the veil, the essence of a moment in time. Do her Ancestors paintings symbolize the fuzzy memories of heritage, generations removed, or do they represent ancestors in spirit who live on in us and continue to guide our lives—or perhaps both? Despite these hazy figures appearing somewhat ghostlike, the overall effect is not haunting but rather warm and familiar, spiritual even, due to the rich, earth-toned palette.
Ruznic’s first solo museum show appears to be autobiographical. She created the paintings in 2020 while pregnant with her first child, which perhaps lent itself to the overall softness of form and color and certainly inspired the pieces in the series The Painters and Their Daughter. Also, maybe more importantly, Ruznic fled Bosnia as a child and lived in refugee camps before immigrating to the United States, eventually landing in Roswell, New Mexico. Her ties to, and disconnect from, her homeland and ancestry are evident