I'm in a printmaking show along with Sherry Smith Bell, Elizabeth Jameson, and Sasha Miyamoto at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco through November 4. I'm posting my artist's statement below. The older I get, the more I appreciate our creative communities and the way we catalyze each other.
As an artist and writer, I have often wondered what it was like to be a musician--to be one of many violins, to collaborate on making a piece of music come alive, to belong to a group with a shared creative purpose. Although the artists in Sherry Bell’s printmaking workshop are working on our own pieces, the atmosphere in the studio nourishes and inspires each artist to make her own music. Faced with the great unknown of making art it has been a joy to work in the studio with companions.
Clearly, creativity is contagious. There are both obvious and subtle ways that artists can support and encourage each other to try new things, push the work further and go past habitual ways of seeing and making. And printmaking is especially collaborative, partly because of the complexity (size and cost) of the equipment. Although we have many stories of the solitary artist, around the world people have made art together. I saw this myself in Bali as I watched mask carvers work together in outdoor pavilions.
Participating in a small group over years, the work deepens. Each artist grows more coherent and focused. Techniques are traded like recipes. Have you tried black paper? What do you think of these inks? One artist’s favorite color is another’s least favorite color. Turquoise becomes a code word as well a beloved form of blue. Someone looks at the leaf of their lettuce and decides to print it now rather than eat it for lunch in a few hours. Life stories emerge over tea, we share bits of our sorrows and celebrate good news.
Although I often explore the same imagery when I print and when I paint, the rhythm of each is very different. I tend to work on prints quickly and paint slowly. My art is inspired by the shapes of leaves and bones, the geometry of squares, the lines that form into ladders and bridges, the curves of the human face. I love the bowls that hold water and air and qualities that seem invisible. I don’t so much complete a body of work and leave it behind as revisit certain images at different times and in different media: painting, collograph, monotype, drawing, and lyrical non-fiction. At my best moments I feel like my art becomes a kind of metaphoric praise song to the immense and intimate beauties of the natural world.
About J. Ruth
Causes J. Ruth Gendler Supports
Poets in the Schools
River of Words
Friends of the Earth
Doctors Withour Borders