My work documents the human spirit and the powerful insights that allow people to find a sense of belonging within their community. The public plays a vital role in the outcome of my work, taking a journey with me that can last up to two years. I produce multi-media installations that include paintings, audio, social media, slideshows, video, and social engagement. Self-aware subjects with strong belief systems fascinate me and draw me in.
When I started painting, I would follow a voice that would come forth from a spirit on the other side asking me to see them. I had no idea what I was doing, I would just paint, in time I understood that I could use channeling from nonphysical energy to guide my work. I remember distinctly that this spirit was eager to be seen and released. While I still use this method in some of my work, I am so much more aware of what is happening and far more particular of who I channel.
oil on canvas
6 x 4′
by Ruth Chase
What does it mean to be a woman, a question I have never explored until this very moment.
From an early age, I noticed that being a “girl” put me in a place of vulnerability and I was very aware that physical danger was awaiting me if I wasn’t careful. So as a young adult “woman” I would make sure that my clothes and persona were tough enough to scare away predators.
Now I look back and see that it wasn’t until bearing a child, at the age of 40, that I began to connect with my womanhood. I was getting in touch with my body and its functions specific to having a child and becoming awakened to the physical characteristics that make me a WOMAN. I loved being pregnant, I loved my body and being able to hold another universe within.
I have spent a lot of time rejecting the expectations put on me by the outside world of what a woman is or should be, or should not be. I have never been sure of how I fit into the expectations of the world around me. I also, at times, did not want to own the power and blessings that come with femininity. On the inside, I felt like I hadn’t decided if I wanted to be feminine and on the outside, I knew to be a tomboy or punk sent a message to leave me alone, I’m not open for this “girl” business. Sometimes I wonder if I would have chosen to be a woman in this lifetime if I were given a choice before I was born. I suppose I have also been pissed off about being a woman, now that I think about it. So far, the most amazing thing about being a woman has been birthing my daughter, who by the way is VERY girly and VERY feminine. I’m having an ‘aha!’ moment writing this. I may even need a good cry.
I am so out of my mind excited to say that I will have the most challenging paintings I have ever made exhibiting in the Museum of Northern California Art. I am so proud to be representing VENICE in this exhibition about the value of street art to our communities.
MUSEUM OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ART
CHICO, CA, 95926 (MAP)
Beyond the Frame Panel Discussion | August 26 INVITATION
Beyond the Frame Exhibition
July 19 – September 2, 2018 INVITATION
“Never Forget Where You Come From, Always Remember Where You’re Going” by Ruth Chase will be exhibiting this month at part of Beyond the Frame. Street art often has a reputation as part of a subculture that rebels against authority, although it can also express a political practice, and serves as just one tool in an array of resistance techniques.
Like some forms of street art, murals are often collaborative and collective art pieces, functioning to empower social bonding, an assertion of a community’s presence in a certain space, and articulate a community’s stance on local and global topics such as historical events and civil rights. Some murals have also been created in defiance to the law (like street art), as others have been commissioned by businesses or other patrons. It can be argued that public art of both categories can add aesthetic improvement to the daily lives of residents, and visitors to the community.
By virtue of being visually provocative or beautiful, public artworks may be easier magnets for community support and thereby effective political tools. For the communities it exists in, public art also provides access to beauty, creative work, and cultural pride.
Philip Oyung is a descendant of one of the first Chinese family to immigrate to Nevada County. He attended Union Hill, as did his father back in 1910. His grandfather emigrated from Guangdong province, China in 1905 to be a cook at the Star Mine in Grass Valley.
Portion of the interview of Philip Oyung with Ruth Chase 2017
On a warm Saturday in November, I met and interviewed Philip at the Oyung Cabin in Empire Mine State Park. With me were cinematographer Radu Sava and photographer Lori Lachman. Philip and his six siblings were born and raised in this cabin until the 1970’s when the family moved out. Philip told me that many Chinese immigrants came through their family home as a first stop before moving on to San Francisco. Listen to hear Philip tell you in his own words.
Philip Oyung is part of BELONGING, a community arts initiative led by Nevada County Arts Council Artist-in-Residence Ruth Chase, generously funded in part by California Arts Council through its Artists Activating Communities Program.
Inspired by Ruth Chase’s ambitious multi-media installation about the land we live on and the notion of belonging, Racial Literacy, Nevada County offers a free, facilitated community conversation in the World Café style at Summer Thyme’s where the BELONGING Community Exhibition, curated by Ruth is on display.
We are collaborating with Chase to expand her artistic intention by creating the opportunity for local residents to experience, as she states, “powerful insights that allow people to find a sense of belonging within their community.”We also welcome Nevada City Rancheria Secretary Shelly Covert.
Join us to talk with each other in a real and candid way about our own sense of belonging along with our relationships with the Nisenan people and this beautiful region that the Nisenan have called “home” for thousands of years.
This community conversation is free and open to the public. Space is limited. The kitchen closes at 4:00pm. Arrive early to place food and drink orders and reserve your seat.
Racial Literacy explores race, privilege, and oppression by hosting community conversations and storytelling gatherings. We believe in the power of education, open dialogue, and deep listening as tools to heal and release the shame and discomfort experienced around discussions of race. From this place of honesty, we can be better activated as a community to show up for racial justice in our daily lives, as well as on larger systemic levels. For more information, find Racial Literacy on Facebook.
SHE Persisted an event by YubaLit | Featuring Author Bridget Quinn
This is an essay I read at SHE Persisted about how I overcame a time in my life when I was the most discouraged and wanted to give up being an artist. It starts and ends with a self portrait I painted that changed my life and was the first step I took to create my own “rags to riches” journey. Well, not so much not riches in the form of money.
Spring 2015: I’m on the back end of my 40s, and this time I’m going to really give up. Pursuing an art career feels hopeless, and the uphill battle I’m fighting right now is more than I can handle. It’s 4:00 am Monday morning—hot coffee, cell phone, Facebook app, and the dog. Every week my husband will be gone from Monday to Thursday or Friday. I’ve committed to homeschooling our only child; I feel lost, I feel alone. Every bit of my spiritual energy is being given to our beautiful daughter who will turn 10 in May. I had no idea that motherhood would take this long or be this hard, that I would feel so disconnected from my dreams and my art. I’ll be 50 before ya know it; I don’t have the time or energy to pick up a paintbrush. “Who am I kidding? Get a real job! I’ll never be a working artist.” I’ve been through this before, but this time it’s different.
When I was six, my home was on the Venice boardwalk, and within me was a well of strength I would not realize I had until I was older, much older. To be totally honest, I was at my very strongest then. I wanted to be the first woman president when I grew up. At that age, dreaming big was easy. The fact that my tutu matched my bodysuit was enough affirmation for me to believe that I could do or be anything. I remember that dance outfit like it was yesterday; I remember the empowering feelings that went with it, too. It seems like it was the only time in my life where my dreams belonged to me, and I was in them wholeheartedly, against all the odds.
Summer: There are signs that the demands of motherhood are changing. I’ll try to paint a self-portrait of that little girl. The one who dreamed big dreams.
In the late ’80s, I was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. I wanted to be an artist with a gallery and be in a museum; I wanted to fill my life with conceptual artist friends and travel the world, eating exotic foods and drinking too much wine. Every idea I had about being an artist came from school, a book or someone else’s life had already lived. As the years go by, I no longer fit into that dream; in fact, I don’t have time to dream.
Fall, I am almost done with the self-portrait. It makes me cry for months, will it ever stop crying? I go with it. I paint, and paint for hours over weeks and into months, one painting turns into 13, turns into a whole installation with audio and video.
It’s August again, I’m 52, I have my first solo exhibition today, the LA Weekly will be there. I try to stay present as 400 people attend. That’s a lot of hands to shake, my feet are hurting me in the killer shoes that tell the world “I still got it.” The following morning I will wake up to some 500 texts with my name tagged all over Facebook and Instagram, they will keep coming for the rest of the day and throughout the following weeks. The City of LA will mail me a Certificate of Appreciation for that one self-portrait that turned into the West of Lincoln Project. I never saw any of this coming.
Today I embark on a project called I AM HERE, about how women maintain their sense of belonging. It’s no coincidence that I am working with the theme of BELONGING because that has been the theme of my life. Perhaps the theme of life?
Three years ago, I had no body of work and 30 years of a whole lotta nothing on my resume. Two years ago, I embarked on a dream more significant than I could have imagined—a dream where I belonged to my art.
Here’s my self-portrait, “Stronger Than You Realize.” I realize now that I AM stronger than I ever thought. I did not find it in a book or a movie; I found it by letting go of an old story, one that was never meant for me, and moving forward, one tiny brave step at a time, toward my dreams. The dreams that were meant for me.
Work by Deborah Bridges
Lee Ann Brooks work
Jerry Van Dykes Work
Bridget Quinn is an Art Historian that delves into the lives and careers of 15 brilliant female artists in her book Broad Strokes. Learn more. These images were taken at SHE Persisted on May 31st at the Stone House for YubaLit.
The BELONGING project is a journey I’m taking with the community of Nevada County. Every week I ask a question on Facebook that explores how we find a sense of belonging. Here is the question I asked most recently.
How do the friendships you had growing up shape your sense of belonging now?
Growing up I felt an incredible pain from feeling like I didn’t belong in my own home while I dreamed of belonging where I wasn’t wanted, with my dad. My dad and I shared the same looks and big personality, I felt comfortable with him because we were alike. As a child my friendships often reflected these same family dynamics, feeling like an outcast in friendships that I perceived I didn’t belong in because I wasn’t enough. Further making me feel incredibly insecure about if I would ever belonging with anyone, anywhere. I think that is why I cried so much on my wedding day, someone wanted me to “belong” with them. To this day I rarely feel like I fit in with most people so I cherish the relationships where I do feel a sense of belonging. After many years of rejection from the art world, I have come to realize that none of it is personal and that I belong to myself first and foremost.
So, how do the friendships you had growing up shape your sense of belonging now?
A pop-up installation where Ruth gave hugs, postcards, and took photos.
This backdrop was painted by Ruth and photos were taken to share the value individuals have in our communities. The public was encouraged to hang their photo at home where it can be seen as a reminder of their importance.
Please email Ruth your I BELONG HERE images from wherever you are RuthChaseFineArt@ymail.com
Amy, she’s a freaking trip, in all the best ways. An incredibly interesting, strange, distant, focused person, the real deal. Sitting with her was like being with someone who was hallucinating, my guess is that she was reading spirits and energy the whole time. As we sat in a hotel room to film the scene I was in with her (not the Holbrooke), across the table from each other, it felt like she was reading me, or the room around me, her eyes were darting back and forth, over and around me, but never looking at me, even when I spoke to her. I loved every minute of it. After our scene together, I then sat to draw what she described both on camera and off. Texting her photos of the progress to make sure the image was matching what she saw.
NO VACANCY OUTLINE: Retired NYPD homicide detective Steve DiSchiavi and physical medium Amy Allan investigate paranormal activity at a small-town hotel in Grass Valley, California. Their separate investigations take harrowing turns as Steve uncovers the hotel’s history of destructive fires and scandalous violence, while Amy comes face-to-face with the deranged dead during her overwhelming walk.