The passion in David Rue’s voice is palpable. When the Liberian-born trendsetter talks about his love for art and dance, he paints a picture as vivid as the artwork he promotes as public engagement associate at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). This role includes planning events around SAM’s latest exhibits, from public openings to the popular monthly SAM Remix parties, but Rue frequently adds his own spin, juxtaposing different artistic mediums alongside the artwork. “I like to think that seeing a moving body in front of, let’s say, a Kehinde Wiley painting will inspire guests to interpret the themes present in their own way,” he says.
Although as a youth, he spent afternoons watching videos of couture fashion shows after school, Rue says he enjoys discovering unique finds at resale shops like Crossroads Trading Co. on Capitol Hill. His playful personal style—inspired by early-2000s street style and internet culture—is expressed through copious amounts of color, patterns and tailored separates.
Rue’s innovative ways go beyond fashion: He frequently uses his background in musical theater and professional dance to present SAM’s work in new and interesting ways. Recently, he invited Italian-born, Seattle-based movement artists Alice Gosti and Lavinia Vago to perform solo responses to the Flesh and Blood exhibit, with the show’s striking Italian masterpieces as a backdrop. Rue encouraged the performers to explore the theme of devotion—a thematic thread running through the exhibit—in hopes of encouraging attendees to more fully experience the paintings.
AT THIS STAGE
Rue’s eclectic personal style and use of different art mediums in his work at SAM are echoed in his dance work. “I love the idea of contrast and combining different things that don’t necessarily go together,” he says. In February, he performed in choreographer Dani Tirrell’s Black Bois, a dance work that explored themes of race, and sexual and gender identity. Keep a lookout for Rue’s work in Mamma Mia! this fall at Village Theatre, where he is assisting choreographer (and Black Bois collaborator) Randy Ford.