Ruso, architetto e artista a New York
COUNTRY OF PROVENANCE
These books focus on New York: a destination for teenagers with Salinger; surreal crossroads for Auster detectives; a gathering of destinies for Allende.
Ruso, architect and artist
a New York
Today my muse is Ruso, a Georgian girl I met during my Erasmus student exchange in Lithuania. After then, we kind of lost each other, but then a few years ago she started publishing her drawings on Facebook and I became one of her fans!
A month ago, she posted a comic that made me think and smile. This quarantine gives us some space to resume some contacts of people we care about, but from whom – due to the circumstances of life – we move away. So out of the blue I wrote to her. The last message we had exchanged was in 2009!
We are stardust
Apparently, after listening to an astronomer TED talk on the radio, Ruso drew these comics. The captions say – even if the drawing is self-explanatory: as human beings we have a connection with the very intimate cosmos. If you think about the hemoglobin molecules in your blood, they contain a lot of iron and in that iron the hemoglobin molecule was formed. It was produced through nucleosynthesis inside a massive star that exploded about 8 billion years ago. Inside you are the remains of a stellar explosion: you are made of stardust!
Now, in this period of global crisis, thinking about how much we human beings are connected not only with our fellow human beings, with our planet, but with the entire cosmos, made me remember that I am part of something big and mysterious. It made me feel like the girl from Ruso’s penultimate illustration made of stardust and floating in an indefinite space.
Well, so I texted to Ruso and she replied, and we had a phone appointment… what else can you do these days? However, we live in two very distant places on the planet, so it would have gone so probably anyway.
Moving and moving
Ruso lives in New York, she is an architect and an artist. Seeing her via webcam in her apartment made me imagine her as the perfect New Yorker. Her hair was shorter than I remembered, but her face, her expressions and her way of speaking are the same as 10 years ago. She enjoys living in New York, it’s much more than living in a city, it’s a lifestyle, a mindset!
Ruso has moved 13 times in the past 7 years. She has changed cities, states, continents. We met in Lithuania, she studied at the Vilnius architecture faculty and, despite being Georgian and her family still largely living there, after graduation she moved to Chicago, United States.
I remember that when the war in Georgia started in 2008, I had wrote to her to share my support. Georgia is such a small country and yet always in turmoil!
Her migration movement seemed strange to me, from one small country to another small country … but the connections between people are endless and it was in Lithuania that Ruso’s family had acquaintances. Then she moved to the American continent and began to be an architect in Chicago in the world of construction, a purely male world, where it is not been easy to make room for herself.
“Lake Michigan looks like a sea,” she says. Of Chicago I remember photos with the snow, I don’t know why, but I have the idea that it is a very cold city! Anyways, soon Ruso moved to New York and that’s where she found home.
New York, New York
The first winter in New York for Ruso was very lonely and that’s when she started drawing again. After university she hadn’t had the chance to draw much. Drawing helped her to face the melancholy that every move brings along, and while she thought about her life and questioned herself, she drew. Her drawings are ultimately biographical and are a bit the mirror of Ruso’s thoughts, laid on the sheet with a gentle touch, a linear stroke and pastel colors. I love them!
New York is also in lock-down today, the United States is among the countries most affected by the coronavirus and health policies are likely to leave a large part of the population out of treatment. Ruso started a new job shortly before the pandemic began and she practically only worked from home! New York has taught her a lot, it is a huge city where everyone can find something, but it is also a city of very lonely people.
Today Ruso lives with her boyfriend and two cats, works from home, has self-produced masks with the instructions her grandmother gave her – she was a nurse – and feels all the uncertainty of the moment: “this is the time to question everything” . New York is a very expensive city, if she loses her job, she might no longer be able to afford it. For now, her life is there, who knows about tomorrow!