#5WomenArtists – Sophie Ryder

During Women’s History Month this March, we are joining the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C. by using the hashtag #5WomenArtists to share important contributions by women in our collection.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts, the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women, champions women through the arts by collecting, exhibiting, researching, and creating programs that advocate for equity and shine a light on excellence. On a daily basis, the museum’s social media platforms highlight women’s contributions to the history of art.

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and bookmark their wonderful Broad Strokes Blog.

This week, we’re featuring the work of Sophie Ryder.

Sophie Ryder was born in London, England where she studied combined arts at the Royal Academy of Arts. While she earned her degree in painting, she was encouraged to focus on sculpture by her fellow artists. It was there that she developed her Lady Hare figures as a counterpart to Ancient Greek mythology’s Minotaur.

Although well known in her native England, and throughout Europe and Canada, Ryder’s first major museum exhibition in the United States was here at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in 2007. Important examples of the artist’s work in a variety of media and in varying scale were shown. Work in wire, bronze, installation, drawings and prints drew connections and distinctions within the artist’s repertoire. Central to the exhibition was the recently completed bronze masterwork, Introspective and the colossal Curled-Up Figure in wire.


The idea of making three-dimensional sculptures entirely from wire was pioneered by Ryder. She begins with a metal armature, which is covered with wire of different thickness, including bed springs and other pieces salvaged from ships. To shape the wire she uses her bare hands and pliers, sometimes aided by a hammer. It is a very physical job and tough on the hands, which inevitably get filthy and cut at times.

“I have always considered myself an artist not a painter or a sculptor or anything in particular. I have always enjoyed experimenting with different media. I never realized that when you went to art school you had to be one thing or the other.” said Ryder. “I sculpt characters and beings – the dogs, the hares, the minotaurs – all characters beyond animal form. That’s what interests me – I am not interested in making a replica. I haven’t sat down and studied anatomy and bone structure. I just look at the way a dog moves, a hare jumps and translate it into my work.”

Can you name 5 women artists in our collection?

About NMWA:
The National Museum of Women in the Arts, the world’s only major museum solely dedicated to celebrating the creative contributions of women, champions women through the arts by collecting, exhibiting, researching, and creating programs that advocate for equity and shine a light on excellence. On a daily basis, the museum’s social media platforms highlight women’s contributions to the history of art.

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