I AM HERe explores how women find and maintain their sense of belonging in our changing rural landscape. I AM HERE is, ultimately, a community conversation- a way to connect, explore and empower.
Key participant Cassie Angle explored what it means to belong in Nevada County as a woman and expresses her perspective in this short video as part of the I AM HERe Art Installation.
I am Here
I am a Farmer
I am a Rancher
I am an Entrepreneur
I am a Nature Lover
I am a sixth generation Nevada Countian born connected to the land. After spending time living away from this beautiful county, I returned to raise a family and farm. I am connected to the seasons deep into my soul; they are in my veins and my thoughts. I am here to support women in agriculture and promote getting back to the land.
Cassie Angle Owner, The Angle Homestead
Documented by its filmmaker Ruth Chase, with cinematographer William Edwards.
Made possible by a grant through Nevada County Arts Council from California Arts Council.
I AM HERe is a true community collaboration. Through several gatherings under the artistic direction of Ruth Chase, a group of local women 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 and visual elements along with two interactive features. The structure incorporates QR codes linked to videos of the key participants, and a social engagement opportunity for all who visit. All of the videos were filmed by Will Edwards and edited by Ruth Chase.
The exhibit is part of the Nevada County Arts Council’s year-long I AM HERE arts initiative, led by Artist Ruth Chase. This initiative was generously funded in part by California Arts Council through their Artists in Communities Program.
The I AM HERE initiative uses several platforms to look at the question of women finding and maintaining their sense of belonging in our changing rural landscape. These platforms include this art installation as well as social media, public art-making salons, a performance art piece, and a short film. There will also be an I AM HERe Collaborating Artists Group art exhibition at BriarPatch Coop from June 7 – July 2.
It was through the I AM HERe project that I met Kimberlee and immediately felt close to her. Me, city slicker, her, educated farm girl. Yet we had far more in common than not. I sat with Kim at her home and we talked about what it was like for her to grow up in rural Nevada County as a woman.
Where did you grow up and how far back does your family go in Nevada County?
I was born in Anchorage Alaska because my dad was stationed there during Vietnam. I grew up in Nevada County from the time I was 7, other than going to college at Chico State. I am the fourth generation to live in Nevada County dating back to the 1910-1920s.
Would you call yourself a Rural Woman?
Without a doubt! I grew up on a dirt road where we worked and played through the weekend. I had no idea what it was like to have an assigned parking space and shared walls until I went to college.
What defines a rural woman in your opinion?
My rural roots are deep, but my wings have allowed me to become my unique self.
A rural woman means that we have bloomed where we were planted. We understand what we have, how to make it work for our lives and how to thrive. I think that there is a misconception that a rural woman is the one who stays home and cooks and cleans, but for me, a rural woman is someone who can see where she comes from and develop into what she was meant to be without forgetting her roots. I am so much like the women in my life who came before me.
So tell me, what is a day in the life of Kimberlee like?
There is never a typical day, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Such a fun question. My off hour’s job is taking care of my 10-acre ranch that was built out of love for family. This is something I am proud to own and make better to one day hand off to my daughter. Currently, we have a handful of farm animals that keep us busy and happy.
My life is rich and always on the go. Initially, the ranch belonged to my Grandparents. This is something I am proud to own and make better to one day hand off to my daughter. Currently, we have a handful of farm animals that keep us busy and happy.
For 13 years I have taught Middle School and youth sports at Lyman Gilmore Middle School. It truly feeds my soul to work with this age group. Since I was a graduate of Lyman Gilmore myself, it’s fun to be able to bring it full circle and give back to the community that gave to me growing up. I am always challenged to be better for every student, I am a mom, sister, teacher, nurse… the list goes on and on.
What’s it like to have a daughter?
I am a mom to an amazing 10-year-old daughter, She is a beautiful soul, with a kind heart and a lot of my strength and sass. McKinlee! She is the light in every day and challenges me to think differently, love harder and be the best version I can be daily. She is a strong little lady, who wants to save the world one animal and one wrongdoing at a time, and believes that you can do anything you set your mind to. Being her mom is by far the greatest joy and honor I have ever been given. I look at her in awe everyday!
Kimberlee, you are a key participant for I AM HERE. I AM HERE is about how women who find and maintain their sense of belonging in a rural county. Would you say there are any barriers to being a woman in this rural county? And do they still exist, what has changed?
This is a tough question. I was raised in this community, so there are many things that I accepted as it was just the way it was. I am part of the agriculture and 4H community in Nevada County, working outside and raising our food and animals. The barriers for me have come from the “community” I associated with and the old ways of thinking.
My grandparents believed women shouldn’t work or waste time playing sports. Instead, I should be at home helping on the “homestead” .
This was not the opinion of my parents, but it was absolutely that of my grandparents, and all of us received a lot of flack for it. It was only when I moved away to college where I noticed that this wasn’t the same everywhere. Do those barriers still exist, no, not in the same way?
There are two very different cultures in this community. The Agriculture community, and a more modern culture where diverse views are accepted, where the arts and a broader view of crafts are encouraged, and new ways of dealing with the environment and the land.
In order for me to not feel the barriers of years past, I have to be open, accepting, and a part of both communities.
Thank you, Laura Peterson, for editing help
Photos by ARB
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.
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.
I invite you to visit my studio anytime. No worries, you don’t have to be an art collector to have a reason to visit.
Depending on my work schedule I will have something I’m working on that is progress, as well as older work to view. If you have questions about art, mine or in general, bring them with you, I love to talk shop.
I am located just three miles from downtown Nevada City, CA. Feel free to call me or use message form below. Ruth Chase 530-409-2330