This program is online only (via Zoom and Facebook Live).
Register in advance now! Advance registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the talk.

American artist Sterling Ruby joins us for a dive into his multifaceted art practice and his monumental sculpture DOUBLE CANDLE.  

American artist Sterling Ruby is recognized as one of today’s most prolific and inventive artists. He works across an enormous range of media including textiles, painting, drawing, collage, photography, video, ceramics, and sculpture. His art is often inspired by the physical and conceptual landscape of Los Angeles, where he currently lives and works, and he finds meaning in pushing the boundaries between artistic media and seemingly disparate ideas. Through this, his artwork often alludes to the power structures and systemic inequalities found in US culture.

Probing, dismantling, and overthrowing the legacy of Minimalism has been a particular focus for Ruby; some of his most impactful early work involved dousing classic Minimalist forms in spray paint. His work often explores ways in which pleasure or splendor can be produced out of acts of defacement, such as graffiti. Ruby has spoken often of the “frozen gesture” as an important theme in his work, a motif that can been seen through his process of making ceramics or in his large-scale poured urethane works. Ruby’s practice evolved recently into fashion, debuting his label, S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA., at Pitti Uomo in Florence in early 2019.

Sterling Ruby, DOUBLE CANDLE, 2018. Installed in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden July 2020. Photo by William Andrews.

Sterling Ruby, DOUBLE CANDLE, 2018. Installed in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden July 2020. Photo by William Andrews.

DOUBLE CANDLE demonstrates Ruby’s belief in an embedded unification of both formal and political concerns and brings together his interest in textile and “soft sculpture” – the monumental sculpture is based on a “soft” version of DOUBLE CANDLE that was recently on view in an exhibition surveying Ruby’s work at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami and the ICA/Boston. DOUBLE CANDLE is an over-scale work standing nearly 23 feet tall, and was made in one of sculpture’s most lasting and historically monumental materials: bronze. Even from their new position within the Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden, the candles stand as recognizable beacons summoning visitors from the National Mall. The twinned totems evoke a resolute yet melancholic presence calling to national memory, unity, and past. DOUBLE CANDLE entered the Hirshhorn collection in 2019, and is installed for the first time on the National Mall. 

6:50 pm ET | Zoom broadcast opens
7–8 pm ET | Sterling Ruby in conversation with Stéphane Aquin

CART (real-time captioning) will be provided for this program. If you have any questions about accessibility for this program, please email

This virtual event is part of Talking to Our Time. the Hirshhorn’s online series of free artist talks featuring a diverse group of artists and collectives. View all events!

This event is also part of #HirshhornInsideOut, the Museum’s initiative to bring art into your home.

This program will be recorded and made available following the event. You will find it on this page and on our YouTube channel.