Sculptor Ruffin Mendenhall Hobbs ’70 will be celebrated this year with two memorial exhibitions of sculpture, drawings, decorative metal work, forged objects, and photos in North Carolina. As a highly-regarded artist primarily working in metal, he was fascinated by the interplay of wire, volume, and open space. He often combined traditional metal working techniques, such as forged iron, with more contemporary methods, including hollow-form assembly.
The first exhibition of A Life’s Work: The Art of Ruffin Mendenhall Hobbs (1952–2008) is at The Artery Gallery from July 5 through July 28. The second is from September 3 through December 7 in the Guilford College Art Gallery, Hege Library. Both galleries are in Greensboro, North Carolina. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. Guilford College also will host a reception on Saturday, September 29 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Ruffin, son of former Guilford College president Grimsley Hobbs, and his wife Lois Ann, graduated from Guilford College with a BFA and then earned his MFA from University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Throughout the years, he fabricated sculpture using various metals including wrought iron, copper, bronze and stainless steel, as well as cast bronze and marble sculptures. Ruffin’s work included mobiles inspired by Alexander Calder. A copper mural sculpture he designed and built while he was a student at Guilford College, “Reflective Wanderers,” graces the facade of Bryan Hall on that campus.
One of his largest public works is a pair of giant stainless-steel tigers created for Princeton University’s football stadium. Flanking the entrance to Princeton Stadium, the two stainless steel tigers were installed to allow ivy to grow through their hollow mesh bodies. Ruffin sanded the legs in order to create patterns that suggest the stripes of a tiger in the glistening sunlight.
“He just manifested ideas,” said his sister Louise Hobbs, an art teacher. “His work referenced many, many themes, including mythic subjects, science, and animals. He was a fellow artist, brother and a loved friend, and he continues to inspire this community and our family.”