When the pandemic hit, I was taken aback as most of us were. I didn’t know what that meant for my career, all my plans seemed impossible, and I would have to adjust.For the past several years, my work has been in service to the community.
In March of 2020, I was a year into a very personal project that felt instantly irrelevant and meaningless come COVID.Like most artists, I have to work to make money, and what to do with the work I started? So I reinvented what I was working on and made plan B and applied for a grant, fingers crossed. The application process allowed me to organize my intentions behind the work and have a plan in writing.
Here is the short version of the proposal and my intention for the work I’m doing.
OVERALL DESCRIPTION What Does it Mean to Be A Woman (placeholder title) celebrates the ways people who identify as women express their gender identity while challenging harmful gender stereotypes that society reinforces in the media.
The project welcomes contrasting definitions of identity as part of an art exhibition of large paintings, video, and three public educational events. The project invites women to reimagine themselves in today’s challenging times—highlighting the wisdom they naturally embody beyond limited role models.
My hope is to encourage meaningful conversation that empowers women and exposes fuller gender representation—providing a platform for perspectives and experiences which carry the power to shape a different collective future. In video interviews, each woman will share unique and diverse perspectives on the meaning of womanhood, allowing the viewer exposure to new ideas or possibilities about what it means to be a woman. The work honors many points of view ultimately intended to break gender stereotypes and promote unbiased gender expression.
I will know in December 2020.
IMAGE CREDITS: Top of page is Ruth Chase in a Zoom conversation with Be Boggs. Below, Gabi Markham from her instagram.
PARTICIPANTS: Kim Stewart, Nicole Weaver, Adrienne, Carolyn Crist Wright, Be Boggs, Luciano Mota, Beatriz E. Ledesma, Michelle Amador, Mira Clark, Gabi Markham, Tia Tuenge, Terra Nyssa, Aqueila M. Lewis-Ross, and Sarah Clark.
“Women: Independence, Interdependence”
by Ruth Chase
acrylic, thread, cotton yarn on cardboard with video
24 x 48″
I am exploring independence and interdependence of women. Through the use of cardboard, acrylic paint, thread, and cotton yarn, this piece is a meditation on how pain is stored in the female body. With phrases like I am afraid to be vulnerable, I am not lovable, and childhood fear taught me not to trust, were written on each disc, and used to create the breast element in the work. Within the work, there are references to gender dysphoria, menses as independence and interdependence, and the female body as being in service.
THE ART OF COLLABORATION – RUTH CHASE AND CHANTELLE GOLDTHWAITE
Now in Year Three, Belonging manifests as HOME, and elicits perspectives on cultural identity from our less represented populations. Ideas of “home” are being explored through the lens of art salons, our gold country history, our recovering native population, and our recent immigrants. Critical bridge building tools are emerging through creative practices, as we meet. Saturday Morning Question ran from 2017 – 2020.
This is a daily account of artist and mother, Ruth Chase. Reflecting on her experiences during 2020. Living in Northern California between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.
JAN 1 – 2021
From 1/1/2019 Creatives and artists often don’t live in the mainstream. So whatever is “trending” now, they are YEARS beyond that mindset. They’re innovators, expanding the way we see and experience the world around us. They have an essential role in healing and teaching, giving us new ways to think and observe our lives, storytelling, stabilizing the economy, revising history, and bridging gaps. Artists are the fiber of transformation; they are visionaries and a precious resource for building our communities.
Congratulations! The selection panel has selected you for a commission in CADA (Capitol Box Art Project) Box Wrap Revival! The Art in Public Places, Project Manager fir Sacramento Office of Arts + Culture
Painting feels a bit like I’m losing all my pawns tonight. Avoiding a checkmate if possible.
Been thinking a lot about the idea of false gods.
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” ― Mark Twain
I don’t follow rules, I interpret them.
After much inner debate about why I shouldn’t sell my paintings online, I’ve decided to take control of my own destiny and give art collectors a place to purchase my work directly.
I’m not always comfortable expressing who I really am. Sometimes I’m loud and proud and against the grain, while other times, I play it safe. This project is causing me to grow and change in ways that scare me at times. Looking at my relationship with power, what I’ve submitted to, and the choices I’ve made out of fear, or as my friend Kim says, playing it safe because of underlying fear. If SAFE seems to be a theme for 2020 in more ways than one then I would like 2021 to be fearless.
The art world can be so unapproachable. What’s considered “HIGH ART” becomes art made for its own audience. While I love it because I have an art education,I also find it is so pretentious and unapproachable.
Tears are the passage to healing
In every news article, artwork, song you are looking to see yourself, to feel yourself, to know yourself.
The power of positive thinking and staying in my own lane. Maybe or maybe not? Feeling uplifted by good news. My work was excepted to the Crocker Kingsley this year.
Just received this email: Thank you for taking the time to submit your work to the Crocker Kingsley. Unfortunately, your artwork listed above has not been selected for this show. Please note: if you submit more than one work of art for this opportunity, you may receive more than one email. Please read each email carefully.
Promptly following this email: Congratulations, your artwork listed above has been accepted into the Crocker Kingsley!
Imagining how things would be different if fear was not the style of presenting information.
The world feels like a global version of my dysfunctional upbringing. Making me realize I’ve been groomed for this shit.
Lately, I’ve been revisiting the mindset I had in my late teens. A time when I was very anti-establishment and obsessed with CRASS, Ayn Rand, and Kate Bush at the same time. Joining every protest and calling myself a citizen of the world. I suppose I’m an adult version of that young girl still as I sift through the feelings I’m having. With age, family, and motherhood that edge has been softened until recently. Is my cynicism from growing up in an environment that let me down, never trust authority, resisting popular movements, never allowing myself to get caught up in the moment that everyone else is having? We are complicated, life is complicated, nothing is black-and-white. I am many things all at once.
KEEP CURIOSITY ALIVE
Hold the vision, trust the process.
The value of a person is not determined by how they vote.
While I voted, I am more of a POWER TO THE PEOPLE kinda gal. I’ll continue to hold my faith in people, not an elected official.
As an artist, I’m more interested in hearing what people really think and feel over telling people what to think and feel.
“I’m learning how to drown out the constant noise that is such an inseparable part of my life. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I only have to follow my heart and concentrate on what I want to say to the world. I run my world.” – Beyoncé
Open Studios starts out rough. Never fun to have the first guest that can’t wait to leave upon entering. Admittedly, my work isn’t for everyone. In the end, Studio Tours was really great. Lots of heartfelt conversation, even a few teary eyes. I couldn’t ask for more.
If JOY were my destination I would be lost as where to find it. This week I’m going to write a daily gratitude focus. I feel stupid even saying those words out loud. DAY 1: I am grateful I can escape the smoke.
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”- Sylvia Plath
2001, I remember this day and exactly where I was. Living in Meadow Vista, CA as a single woman. It was traumatizing, unbelievable. I just want to say that I mark this day as the same feeling, only that it’s been a slow trickle to get here, while 9/11/01 was all at once. May peace rule our hearts, may love guide us in trying times.
Nevada County: Total Cases of COVID 478, 5 deaths, 288 West County, 190 East County
At first, with COVID it was hard to work, but things kept getting harder and more stressful so that now all I can do is work to keep my sanity.
Life feels like I’m living in a house who with parents divorsed and I am choosing to stay in my room because I don’t want to be part of their arguments. They are asking the wrong question, they insist on arguing about who is right and who is wrong instead of how are we going to get through this together.
I’ve almost gone numb, I’d like to call it surrender, what will be will be. I can’t take the drama anymore and I’m finding myself constantly refocusing. As if that muscle is just getting stronger and stronger. Refocus on family, art practice, and kindness.
Last night we were certain we may need to evacuate, but then once CalFire had all the updates realized it wasn’t as close as we thought. Tonight we will sleep with our phones on, cars packed, ready.
Wild fire season, car packed just in case
Nevada County: Total Cases of COVID 255, 1 death, 116 West County, 139 East County
Nevada County: Total Cases of COVID 228, 1 death, 100 West County, 128 East County
I’m not one. Or the other.
MY MAYBE UNREALISTIC THOUGHTS ABOUT SCHOOL OPENING
I am one of those parents who hope for on-campus school to open with a totally different model than what we’re used to.
I find it interesting that mental health is at the forefront of all things going on right now. And with our teens, it strikes me as being critical to moving forward.
I’m sure it’s unrealistic, but here are my thoughts. And I fully recognize that the schools have a tremendous burden to deal with, and teachers must feel safe. I feel quite lucky to live in a place that is likely thinking out of the box on these things already.
That the schools’ primary function when on campus is to hold a space for our youth to be together for their mental health and stimulate a desire to continue their education for when they are at home. If only a couple of days a week. And for as long as they can hold classes outside. Sitting on the ground, walking, moving. Smaller groups with all the social distancing, mask waring stuff. Taking a more off-grid approach. Zoom classes at home that require video participation unless unable, so kids see each other and keep a connection going. Create our on-campus schools to hold space for our youth if for nothing more than a tiny lifeline of connectedness and less concern about traditional education.
The longer the pandemic – the more feral I become.
I suspect when it comes to COVID we are 100% being lied to, and we will not really know until a decade passes. However, I still feel the same about waring masks. Not because we always need to, because it puts people at ease even when they are feeling fear. It’s a community statement, not a political statement. Also, because I can’t know anything for sure.
I refuse to live in fear or do something to make someone else fearful. Everyday is a struggle, my only goal is to keep from wanting to give up and being there for Adrienne. Staying positive and staying away from catastrophic thinking. No one knows anything for sure with so many opinions that have proof flying around. I most certainly know one thing for sure, that hope and being positive in the face of chaos is a lifeline.
I was raised feral, in a household with no expectations of me, other than survival. It’s a sharp contrast to my daughters upbringing, hence the painting I did “Innocences as a Privilege”.
Durning this pandemic and now social unrest in the wake of George Floyd, the level of depression our children have is even more exasperated. As a parent it’s a struggle keeping things together. A challenge that I must keep rising to meet.
Let’s not confuse neutrality with the right to pause and take thoughtful action.
News – Gossip?
The end of BELONGING Saturday Morning Question. Ended on a quiet note because of all the unrest in the world. I’m still processing, but will comment on it at some point.
Dear Sadie, I don’t believe there is one truth, I believe there are many truths that coexist at the same time, that is why I have to follow my own truth.
Dear Sadie, It’s my baby’s 15th birthday today. Being in quarantine is not her birthday wish. There has been lots of sadness about not being able to celebrate with her new group of girlfriends. Even though we’re doing well, with lots of talking and listening, it is also a time of challenging mental health for many families with teens.
To be still, to listen To my breath The beat of my heart The sound of my soul My personal path On the collective
Dear Sadie, I’ve started a weekly live program on Instagram with Chantelle called THE ART OF COLLABORATION. @cgoldthwaite and I have decided to work in cardboard for a collaborative piece recorded on IGTV. We will each be doing our own piece that will come together as possibly a diptych. We wanted a way to inspire each other and you to be creative during the shelter in place. it’s being totally made up as we go along.
Dear Mom, I wish I could see you, seeing me being a mother. A wild child and also your caretaker, we were quite an odd match. It was you and I, always. I remember when you were living, grabbing onto you like a child, though in my 20s. I was sad that you would die one day because you were all I had. You taught me humility, compassion, unconditional love, and the importance of loving people, all people. It wasn’t until I became an adult, beyond your departure that I really implemented what I learned from you by the example you lived effortlessly.
MAY 6, 2020
Dear Sadie, I hung out with my girlfriend Heather the other day. We’ve been getting together in her backyard. I bring my cooler over with my own cocktail and appetizer and we set across the table from each other. At one point I was overwhelmed with emotion. I realized how much spacial intimacy I take up. A gentle lean into a whisper, touching her knee as a hand gesture to say, I care, or even a slap of the table with me belting out a big (spittle full) robust laugh was all shut down. I had this thought, was this what it is like to be a proper lady? How exhausting and how boring. Anyhow, it sucked.
MAY 2, 2020
Dear Sadie, That’s it, I’m ready to put on my mask full time and resume my life.
MAY 1, 2020
Dear Sadie, Adrienne’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. She is beginning to feel really down about not just her birthday but thinking about all the events that were canceled over summer. A trip to Disneyland with my sister is one such event. It has been really hard lately, I can only imagine what it’s like to be her age and an only child. Sigh
APR 29, 2020
Dear Sadie, Herd mentality makes more sense when you learn about how herd immunity works.
APR 27, 2020
Dear Sadie, Its hard to know what authentic thoughts and feelings I’d have when I’m spoon-fed perspectives by “experts” with a limited insight diet.
APR 25, 2020
Dear Sadie, Our home, the one I hated only months ago is becoming my dream home. We are working on the yard so we have a place to be during the summer, with shade and placed to sit. As of today, Nevada County West has 12 cases of Coronavirus.
APR 22, 2020
Dear Sadie, I had a conversation with a family member the other day, in so much fear. It wasn’t like I disagreed with them. My take away after sifting through our conversation over and over the past few days was that I am always presented with fear, realities that are possible nightmares, but that I have a choice to hold my attention on solutions where there is less fear for me. My mantra yesterday was ….. Problem-solving is where hope lives, where innovation thrives. I just kept thinking about that. CHOICE: It’s an amazing place we live, here on earth. And choosing is one of the great experiences that we get to interact with.
APR 20, 2020
A REBIRTH A PIVOT
“Ruth, you will need to reinvent yourself after having a child. Don’t make plans to go back to where you were before you were pregnant; instead, plan on your rebirth. What you need in your new life will become visible. The more you resist change, the harder it will be.” Retrospective perspective.
I am in yet another rebirth with this quarantine, and I must drop what I thought about myself, my world, my home, my life, and allow a renewal, a pivot, to transform me.
If I remember correctly, the rebirth happened against my will. It took me screaming and clawing. I’m thinking I could learn from my past.
APR 19, 2020
Dear Sadie, I have finally landed in a space I can call my own. I have a studio. For the past seven months, I’ve been struggling with on and off depression. I never realized just how vital my studio was to my mental health until it was taken away. And during this quarantine, it’s been painful not having a place to recalibrate, create, wonder. I’m here now writing to you, listening to the birds outside my window, dog at my feet. I can have my own thoughts here, I can be myself here.
Last week Eliza Tudor of Nevada County Arts Council, Tracy Pepper of Color Me Human, Donn K. Harris of California Arts Council, and I were in #Miami for four days joining the #changenetwork of OF/BY/FORALL.
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.
In her film, “Belonging” local artist and director, Ruth Chase documents the stories of people living in Nevada County, including Shelly Covert, spokesperson for the Nevada City Rancheria, Nisenan Tribe.
The film is an initiative of Nevada County Art Council and funded in part by California Arts Council through its Artists in Communities Program. Chase and Covert are scheduled to show the film during this week’s 17th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes to Nevada City and Grass Valley.
The pair are scheduled to participate in activities such as opening reception, art shows, fireside chats, coffee talks, workshops and film panels throughout the five-day environmental and adventure film festival that attracts filmmakers, change-makers, and activists from around the globe.
The two sat down and answered a few questions. Chase had this to say:
What inspired you to make the film, “Belonging?”
“Belonging” is about how people find a sense of belonging through the land, the earth, and the environment. I was initially interested in examining the unique connection people have with the land they were born on and if that connection changes when residing in a place other than their birthplace.