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. The public was 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, designed by Ruth, built by Monica Hughes, and Sally Peterson. QR codes were linked to videos of the key participants, and a social engagement opportunity available to all who visit. The videos were filmed and edited by Will Edwards and Ruth Chase.
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.” First by exploring feelings of belonging, then learning about what a public art installation is, and finally by collectively choosing symbolism to direct the art installation.
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 designed 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 also culminated into a year long conversation with 13 artists who met regularly to talk about their sense of belonging and create original artwork for the I Am Here Group Art Exhibition.
VIEW ALL thirteen key participant one-minute videos here
The City of Nevada City expressed its support for I AM HERe at the time of Nevada County Arts Council’s application to California Arts Council’s Artists in Communities Program. Catrina Olson, City Manager, wrote: “The City of Nevada City is preparing to mark one hundred years since the signing of the 19th Amendment. This is relevant to all of us, in that it gave women the freedom to vote. It was in Nevada City, forty-two years prior to the passing of the amendment that a Nevada City resident, Ellen Sargent, formed a vital part of a core team that introduced the 29 words that would later become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
YOU ARE HERE
I want to hear from you, who are the women in your life? This could be you, a relative, girlfriend, historic figure, mentor, mother, friend, lover, mentor, inspiration or fictional, you name it. How do you or they belong? Submit and I’ll write it on a Tie on Tag and tie it to the art.
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.