Mark Ruwedel


Mark Ruwedel (born 1954, Bethlehem, PA) first became interested in photography while studying painting at Kutztown State College, Pa., (BFA, 1978). In 1980 he moved to Montreal to pursue graduate studies in photography at Concordia University (MFA, 1983). While at Concordia, he started working with the view camera and also began his teaching career, which continues to this day. After graduation, Ruwedel spent time in both New York City and the Seattle area before returning to Montreal to teach full time until 2000.

Throughout the 1980s, Ruwedel honed his craft through projects such as “Mont Royal” (acquired by CCA, Montreal) and “Terre des Hommes” in Montreal (collected by the CMCP), a series of landscapes on the British Columbia coast, and a large survey of cinema architecture across North America which was exhibited at the Cinematheque Quebecoise and the Mona Bismark Foundation in Paris. He also began his association with Galerie Art 45, Montreal.

In the 1990s, Ruwedel began his extensive travels to photograph and pursue his interests in the contemporary landscape. Two projects, “The Hanford Stretch” and “The Italian Navigator”, focused on the history of nuclear weapons. Both became book works, in 1993 and 2001, respectively. Following those works, he developed three large scale projects which occupied him for more than a decade: “The Ice Age”, which considers the traces of material culture in the context of geological time; “Pictures of Hell”, an inventory of places named for Hell or the Devil, and “Westward the Course of Empire”, a study of the land forms created by railroad building in the American and Canadian West. Aspects of these projects were supported by Canada Council “A” grants awarded in 1999 and 2001 and works from them have been collected by important museums: the Metropolitan, NY; National Gallery of Canada; National Gallery, Washington; San Francisco MOMA; and Tate Modern, London, among many others. In 2002, Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver, organized a survey of these three bodies of work which traveled to nine venues across Canada and was accompanied by the book, “Written on the Land”. In 2008, the Yale Art Gallery published “Westward” as a monograph. “Pictures of Hell” will be published by Ram Publishing and Alaska Press in Fall, 2014.

In the summer of 2000 Ruwedel was Guest Faculty at NSCAD, Halifax. He began living part time in Vancouver during this period and left Concordia to teach at California State University, Long Beach, in 2002. He maintains a second residence in Refuge Cove, BC.

Since moving to California, Ruwedel has identified new subjects that continue his interest in the landscape and the nature/culture dynamic, photographing in both black-and-white and color. As a result of an artist’s residency in Joshua Tree, he began photographing abandoned houses and other evidence of failed attempts to live in harsh environments. One resulting series, “Crossing”, presents the detritus left by illegal border crossers; it was featured in “Exposed”, SFMOMA and Tate, 2010. “Desert Houses” and the related “Dusk” series is currently being prepared for publication in Germany. Selections from both groups were included in the National Gallery of Canada’s 2012 Biennial.

Ruwedel exhibits regularly in both North America and Europe. In addition to Art 45, he is currently represented by Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, Yossi Milo Gallery, NY, and Francoise Paviot in Paris. In the past two years he has had solo exhibitions at all four of these galleries.