Suthat Pinruethai (SACI Alumn Fall 1977, Spring 1978) was recently invited to California State University Bakersfield as a visiting artist and contributor to The Grapes of Wrath celebration of the 75th anniversary of Steinbeck’s writing. Three artists were selected with varied projects to work with students during the spring of 2014. Suthat collaborated with students to make two sets of ceramic books that are being installed around the CSU campus. The first set has single words critically chosen from the Grapes of Wrath, written in the phonetic spelling of the dictionary. These books pose a connection to the Grapes of Wrath, with the intent of raising questions. Many of these books have been installed as though someone has been reading and has just set the book down. The second set was created by students, faculty and staff, and includes favorite passages, photos and historic articles. Suthat concluded his residency with a lecture about his artwork.
About the artist
Closely connected through life to his home country of Thailand and major artists from a number of international locations, Pinruethai chose the most difficult path, the most original and personal direction he could have selected. Not relying on traditional dialogues he reached for the rebellion of Modernity, but his work never departs from his roots. His work gathers around the tree of his life like leaves, incidental and blown about by change. The artist’s life is the work, the way he conducts it is a single work of sincerity. Through using his mind to achieve new ways of questioning our relationship to objects and their value, Pinruethai reveals that he is an artist concerned first and foremost with ethics, both as an artist and as a human being. His mode is one of teaching, his expression becomes impersonal the moment it is discovered and understood, artworks meant to be handed off to the mind of the discoverer. He is not interesting in shaking up people’s thought just for the sake of creating a passing experience; he is concerned with making things better.
With a focus on honesty, ethics, and improving the world through his art, he is able to reach into any aspect of his life for materials. From his own personal effects, to the sound of words in his experience as a bilingual person, to the structures he builds to work in, his movements are fluid and flow around the obstacles he perceives in society, weathering them away. There is no shortage of amusement at how strangely suited every bit of our lives are to being creative instruments, and no shortage of humor, lightly brushed over serious concern, present in his work.
Suthat previously exhibited his work in SACI’s Maidoff Gallery in an exhibition entitled, Unframed Language.