DeCordova awarded the Rappaport Prize to Ursula von Rydingsvard for her exemplary contributions to monumental sculpture. Her massive wood pieces are intricately textured and artificially eroded, variously resembling vessels, shelters, and geological formations. The artist creates her sculpture from cedar beams which she painstakingly cuts, forms, assembles, and laminates, finally rubbing powdered graphite into the work's surface. She deliberately uses cedar boards milled into 4" by 4" widths with varied lengths, a neutral module in which von Rydingsvard sees endless sculptural possibilities. Czara z Babelkami, created in 2006, resembles a monumental vase standing in Madison Square Park. Irregular protrusions stud the exterior like knots on a tree, the graphite stains and rough texture giving it a weathered patina. The piece resembles some ancient, alien species of plant, or an unearthed shelter from a lost civilization. Von Rydingsvard's intensely personal process of creation makes her sculptures resonate emotionally with viewers; they seem to remind us of something long-forgotten.

What did the prize mean to you?

The prize allowed von Rydingsvard to pursue a new artistic direction in her sculpture. She writes: "The Rappaport Prize enabled me to make a sculpture which deviated from others I have made, enabling me to explore some new possibilities which directly influenced the large commission I am still working on for Storm King [Art Center]."

Where is she now?

Von Rydingsvard is one of the most renowned figures in contemporary sculpture. Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has been featured in group and solo exhibitions worldwide, and SculptureCenter in New York is currently organizing a traveling retrospective exhibition, Ursula von Rydingsvard: Sculpture, 1991-2011, which will appear at DeCordova in Summer, 2011. One of von Rydingsvard's pieces is on long-term loan to DeCordova, and can be seen in the park year-round.