Asked whether the pungent scent of the cedar attracted her to the wood, the artist laughs. "I've OD'd on the stuff. I wear a mask that looks like a tent over my head with a 15-pound battery hoisted on my back. It has a hose that feeds air to me."
Rydingsvard pauses for a moment before sharing a parting recollection from her youth. "I remember putting raw linen out to dry outside the barracks on the patches of grass, since everything seemed covered in dirt. There were no paved roads or cars to speak of. I would try to soften them with water as they dried under the sun. The fabric was very rough and would scratch and make your skin bleed if you tried to wear it like that. It was even hard to sew in that state by hand. But as I sprinkled it with water, over and over again, I would notice how organic it would look when it hugged the surface of the grass. I remember it pleasing me and making me happy in a visual way."
Ursula von Rydingsvard stands next to one of her colossal sculptures.
"Ursula von Rydingsvard: Sculpture": Through August 5 at the Frost Art Museum, 10975 SW 17th St., Miami; 305-348-2890; thefrost.fiu.edu. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.