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.
Painted in collaboration with Elaine Love Leslie by Ruth Chase. The painting reflects her life story and the wisdom she has as a result of growing up in Venice, CA. This was the final painting in the West of Lincoln Project, completed in early 2017. Painted by Ruth Chase.
Elaine Love Leslie
b. 1969 | Sunset Ave.
There is a real gift in darkness. That’s why the moon disappears and we have seasons. The dark is necessary in order for the regrowth. The seed lives in darkness before it emerges into its full potential.
I was five years old in 1974. That is when my single mother, in pursuit of freedom, moved us from Colorado to our new home on Sunset Ave in Venice. The house was nothing more than a shack, and it was already the home to a thousand cockroaches. “I’m going to paint the kitchen yellow,” she said, and I remember hearing her voice crack with both bravery and fear. As a child, one of my favorite things to do was watch my mother be brave.
Venice was my greatest spiritual teacher, for there was sacredness there, an unspoken law of survival. You will know danger and become intimate with fear. You will learn your strength, for it will be called on often in the ritual of being a child in the wild.
I found God in everything and everyone. I heard messages of love preached by crazy people conversing with angels in the form of sand. My home was a safe haven of lost souls. We welcomed all. My childhood was filled with nights of wine and weed, and conversations about art, spirituality, politics, liberation, music, literature, and madness. These were the sacred hymns that lulled my young bones to sleep; these were the songs of my youth.
Every Saturday morning Ruth posts a question about our sense of belonging on the I AM HERE Facebook Group page. Each response informs her work, using social engagement as a tool for artmaking and engaging the community in conversation.
Ruth has been exploring ideas of belonging for over three years now, having a direct impact on her life and work as an artist.
The first year of BELONGING we asked, how do you find and maintain your sense of belonging through the land that we share? This year, with I AM HERE, we’re asking, how do women find their sense of belonging in a rural county? I welcome you to participate too.
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.
BELONGING is part of the “J O U R N E Y S ” program of documentary shorts.
BELONGING is about our vulnerable mountain home and the people who tend it, love it and depend on it. Documented by its filmmaker Ruth Chase, with cinematographer Radu Sava, the film features Rick Berry, Jeff Brown, Jonathan Collier, Shelly Covert, Philip Oyung, Nancy Tiken Lopez, Elisa Parker, Aimee Retzler, Mike Stewart and Rob Thompson. BELONGING is an initiative of Nevada County Art Council, led by Artist Ruth Chase and generously funded in part by California Arts Council through its Artists in Communities Program.
Friday, September 7 @ 4:25pm Sunday, September 9 @ 1:25pm Thursday, September 13 @ 7:25pm
All showings @ Onyx Theatre, 21+
plus Filmmaker Q&A