Multimedia artist Ruth Chase sees female identity in complex shades of gray—sometimes literally. Rendered in muted, ashen hues, Ruth’s work challenges black-and-white gender stereotypes with subtle shifts in color and contrast. “Grey is a dominant color used to represent neutrality,” she says.
The Tennessee-based artist grew up in Venice, California, as a self-proclaimed “wild child.” In an interview with NashvilleVoyager—whose flagship publication is VoyageLA—Ruth describes her youth: “My childhood was wild. I was the last of five children running free on the beach in California. I was a very curious, independent, and spirited child. Difficult to contain or discipline. My mom had her hands full with me. I was driven to be free to explore the world around me. I would say that I am a grown up version of that wild child.”
For the grown up rebel, challenging stereotypes and encouraging others to consider different perspectives comes naturally. Ruth’s acrylic paintings “speak to the value of people to their community—working with themes of belonging, visibility, and what it means to be a human.” Specifically, she works to understand and redefine female identity.
In works such as “I’m Many Things at Once” and “She Remembers Everything,” she uses her signature painting style—transparent washes of dusky color punctuated by thin, watery drips—to portray disparate female experiences. Rendered without a discernible head or face, “What Does It Mean To Be a Woman” contemplates the nude female form, while “Stronger Than You Realize” depicts a young girl questioning whether “girls like [her] go to college.” In her artist statement, Ruth describes her painting process: “[I] paint in acrylic on canvas, blurring the lines with drips and intersecting patterns, shapes and edges, allowing drips to break up hard lines to impart a sense of history, memory, and emotional complexity.”
Ruth uses different mediums—painting, public art, and film—to inspire community bridge-building and let others know they’re not alone in their struggles. “I have worked with hundreds of people in creating art that engages the public,” she says. “I’m interested in presenting contrasting viewpoints and encouraging the viewer to draw their conclusions.”
“Grey is a dominant color used to represent neutrality.” — Ruth Chase
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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