Women in a Rural County
Women are an essential part of any community, yet their sense of belonging is often tied into gender roles, not always satisfying their sense of belonging. Mother, sister, partner, we all have women in our lives. I AM HERe is intended to mirror the voices of how men and women view women’s unique sense of belonging against the backdrop of our rural community. Lead artist Ruth Chase has sought to examine her own sense of belonging over the course of a year by asking questions through social media and taking her personal journey alongside the community. Now, the public is invited to share their own stories about themselves or the women in their lives by participating in the public art installation.
The installation was located in downtown Nevada City, California from May 18 – June 16, 2019. The public came daily, rain or shine to engage the art in three primary ways. Over 400 people posted their comments and tied them onto the structure. They have been documented and archived for future use.
I AM HERe was a collaboration between Ruth Chase and thirteen Key Participants, built by Monica Hughes, and Sally Peterson. QR codes are linked to videos of the key participants, and a social engagement opportunity for all who visit. The videos were filmed and edited by Will Edwards and Ruth Chase.
I AM HERE is a true community collaboration. Through several gatherings under the artistic direction of Ruth Chase, a group of local women (Key Participants) arrived at a collective vision for an interactive public art installation, “I AM HERe.”
The key participants in I AM HERE are Cassie Angle, Elma Baker, Melinda Booth, Virginia Rose Covert, Kimberlee Evans, Susan Gouveia, Isis Indriya, Kayle Martin, Erin Noel, Elisa Parker, Shelby Richardson, Jennifer Singer, and Ginny Woods (known as AniLa in her Buddhist practice). Together they explored what it means to belong in Nevada County as a woman and developed a vision for this art installation. Significant symbolism was used to lead the design, including charring of the wood to represent renewal and care for the earth as mother, as well as weaving to represent community and integration.
Once the symbolic vision was determined, Ruth Chase, Monica Hughes, and Sally Peterson worked together to design a structure that would embrace these ideas and symbology. The “I AM HERe” installation is made of local manzanita branches and Yuba River rock, and includes audio elements along with QR codes linked to videos of the key participants sharing their perspective on their sense of belonging.
I AM HERE is an initiative of Nevada County Art Council led by Artist Ruth Chase, generously funded in part by California Arts Council through its Artists in Communities Program.