Maja Ruznic

Bosnian artist, Maja Ruznic, creates textile sculptures and paintings of the forgotten individuals of our society. Drawing from her memories of being a refugee at the age of nine years old, Ruznic’s aesthetic is born from her ability to understand and recognize fragile psyches. Ruznic displays these tenuous emotions in her artworks, giving our society a glimpse into the troubled realities that float past us each day. 


Uncovering raw, intricate psyches, Ruznic’s art gives form to the sentiments that we struggle to both understand and define. Her textile sculptures, lovingly named phantoms, aim to embody the political and psychological anxiety in our world. These figures do not always physically reflect the human form. Some have multiple arms or share limbs with another body, which blurs the line between the particular individual who inspired the sculpture and Ruznic’s memories. Visually complex, the beauty of her work radiates from the growth of understanding that the viewer gains from these intricate sculptures. By challenging our conception of beauty, these figures reveal the distressing reality of our world and deepen our moral understanding. 


Along with her textile sculptures, Ruznic works with oil, ink, and watercolor to create abstract paintings. For her, the initial gestural mark on the blank canvas is the most authentic and indicative of her purpose as an artist. Due to the fluidity of her materials, the first mark she will make when starting a piece cannot be edited, and as such, it represents something uncensored. From this opening stain, Ruznic brings out a conversation she overheard, an event she witnessed, or a person she passed by. What unites these subjects is the tension between the colors, which evoke the traumatic spirit of Ruznic’s aesthetic. A keen observer of human fragility, each of Ruznic’s exhibitions focuses on a particular ‘community’ of nameless souls. The drifting stains and smudges in her artwork reflect her dance with misplaced individuals who resonate with her own past experiences. 


Ruznic was born in Brčko, Bosnia, in 1983. After fleeing her home due to the Bosnian War (1992-1995), both she and her mom wandered Europe until finally making it to San Francisco, California, 1995. She went to school at the University of California, Berkeley, CA, and then earned an MFA from the California College of Arts, San Francisco, CA. She has exhibited nationally as well as internationally at ACME, Los Angeles, CA; Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA; Charlie James, Los Angeles, CA; OCHI Gallery, Ketchum, ID; Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco, CA; the Torrence Art Museum, Torrance, CA; Roswell Museum of Contemporary Art, Roswell, NW; Conduit Gallery Dallas, TX; BEERS Gallery London, England; Galerie d'Ys, Bruxelles, Belgium and many others. Ruznic’s artwork has also been written about extensively, most notably in ArtMaze MagazineJuxtapozSan Francisco Bay GuardianStudio Visit Magazine, and twice in New American Paintings, including the cover as selected by curator Anne Ellegood.