Joshua Ruder builds benches. Not just any benches, but benches created from stones found and chosen from the surrounding landscape where it will rest.
“By selecting specific stones from the same place where a bench will remain helps to create an even deeper connection between it and its setting,” said Ruder.
Ruder grew up in Newton and attended Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley. “The Torah passage that I chose was about Jacob’s dream and in my Dvar Torah, I spoke about the power of doubt and asking questions in the forming of knowledge, and how special it is that in Judaism we are encouraged to question and wrestle with everything, even the idea of God,” he said.
Judaism continues to inform Ruder’s life and art. “I see the sculptures and art that I create as a gift to the world, an act of tikkun olam, with the intention of creating spaces of reflection, contemplation, and even discussion or debate,” he said. “I seek to continually show the ways that we are more alike than different as human beings and even as living beings on this planet, that there is beauty and value in all of us, that we are better and stronger when we collaborate rather than try to exploit nature and each other.”
Ruder studied at the Rhode Island School of Design while majoring in visual art at Brown University, from where he graduated in 2016.
Ruder will build a new bench on the campus of Pingree School in South Hamilton as part of the 13th annual Flying Horse Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, for which he is honorary chair. He invites visitors to watch him use hand and power tools to assemble the pieces of granite and bluestone he discovered in different spots on the 100-acre campus.
“Part of this process that I find incredibly rewarding and engaging is the performative and educational aspect of building the benches onsite,” he said.
The bench builder will be working on Monday, Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pingree School is located at 537 Highland St. in South Hamilton.
The Flying Horse Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit opens Saturday, Sept. 3 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 27.