Cristina Rutkowski, recipient of the 2012 Thomas George Artists Fund Award

Cristina Rutkowski of Allamuchy, NJ has been selected for the 2012 Thomas George Artists Fund Award. The $5,000 prize enables a young artist with exceptional promise to focus on his or her craft for several months after college. Rutkowski graduated Magna Cum Laude this year from The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Rutkowski’s most recent work depicts images of the cosmos inspired by photographs from the Hubble Deep Space Telescope, painted and drawn onto the surfaces of large mirrors. The result is a complex play of light, a “canvas” in which the viewer sees his or her own reflection superimposed upon an image of the infinite.

Thomas George is an internationally recognized artist who is especially renowned for his landscapes and lifelong engagement with nature. George immediately recognized a kindred spirit in Cristina. “I was moved by her subject matter and impressed by her technique,” George said. “Cristina has qualities that are very special in a young artist … a seriousness of purpose, spiritual searching, dedication and focus. Her work explores an interior, personal world through the lens of the physical world — an exploration that has driven my own artwork for over six decades.”

George met and interviewed Cristina before selecting her for the award from among several finalists. The two exchanged thoughts on art and nature, and Cristina explained how she creates her colorful works.

Rutkowski plans to pursue an internship at a nonprofit arts organization in New York City while continuing to hone her craft. The grant, she explained, will be instrumental not only in providing for basic living expenses during this time — the funds will help her to acquire some of the unique and often costly materials she uses for her artworks, such as large glass panels and gold and silver mica powders.

Although she is considering graduate study in visual art, Rutkowski says she is pulled toward making art as much of a full-time pursuit as possible for the near future, and hopes to immerse herself in a community of fellow artists. “My greatest desire,” she relates, “is to use my skills, knowledge, and love for what I do to create art that can speak to the mind and touch the soul, art that — piece by piece and person by person — would touch and elevate ….”

Collected here are several images of her work, “Reflections of Eternity,” for your exploration:

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