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RUTH OWENS

Be Kind to Yourself ||| Exhibition Video

1 April - 29 May 2021

Video by Matthew Spriggs Productions

JOAN MITCHELL CENTER

In the Studio: RUTH OWENS

 

Ruth Owens is a New Orleans-based artist who was in residence at the Joan Mitchell Center during September 2020-January 2021. Filmed at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, November 2020. 

 

Videography & Editing: Dave Greber - vimeo.com/greber

Editing Assistance: Kendra Thompson

Production Assistance: Jeremy Jones

Biography

Biography

[New Orleans, LA :: b.1959, Augsburg, Germany] 

 

Ruth Owens was born in 1959 to a young German woman and a Black serviceman from Georgia. The nomadic military lifestyle of her childhood was complicated by restrictions to mixed families in many communities and laid the basis for the formation of her cultural identity and therefore, her artistic practice.

Ruth Owens graduated in 2018 with an MFA from the University of New Orleans after leaving her medical practice of 25 years. She is represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, and belongs to the artist collective, “The Front,” in New Orleans. Artist residencies include the Joan Mitchell Center residency in the fall of 2020, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA in 2019, the Vermont Studio Center in 2018, and the Studios at MASS MoCA in 2022. She has also been accepted into the International Studio and Curatorial Program residency in NY. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Ackland Art Museum at the UNC-Chapel Hill, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society, and 21c Museum. Notable solo shows include “Be Kind to Yourself,” 2021, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; “Good Family,” 2019, The Front Gallery; “Identity Theft,” 2018, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; “Baby Love,” 2018, University of New Orleans Gallery; “Conspiracies,” 2017, Barrister’s Gallery, New Orleans; and “Steppin’ Out,” 2016, Xavier University Chapel Gallery, New Orleans. Ruth has participated in group exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Addison Gallery of American Art, and the New Orleans Film Festival, 2019.

Artist Statement

Artist Statement

Ruth Owens is a figurative painter and video artist whose work draws on the Black archive to expand narratives around personal identity. The central imagery in Owens’ paintings and videos is culled from her family’s super-8 film collections from the 1960’s and 1970’s. The centering of this archival trove is an intimate, gestural, and cinematic act that illuminates the obscured history of families of color. Owens resists essentialisms and stereotypes, instead revealing the complex and nuanced psychology of individual people of color positioned in the landscape. Her work celebrates the care and healing offered by the natural environment, and encourages the embrace of the spiritual and psychological nurturing available out-of-doors. Given that outdoor spaces represent sites of historical and contemporary ambivalence for Black bodies, Owens proposes we brave opportunities to quietly walk out and listen to what the trees and rivers have to teach us.

 

Ruth Owens is a figurative painter and video artist whose work examines the inscription of meaning on figures and landscapes. It alerts us to the tensions between what is sensed on a retinal basis, and what lies beneath, be it magically wonderful or terrifyingly destructive. Things are never as they seem, and Owens subtly displays these incongruencies by positioning Black figures in landscapes traditionally thought of as white spaces. Can an Afro-coifed birdwatcher peacefully marvel at the color subtleties of a heron’s plumage? Can a jet black father joyfully play with his children in Georgia’s pristine mountain lakes? What about Sister-Sister? Can she enjoy tea in the garden?

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae

EDUCATION

2018      Master of Fine Arts, Painting, University of New Orleans

1986      MD, Northwestern Medical School

1981      BA, Carleton College, Northfield MN

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2021      Be Kind to Yourself, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2020      Black Outdoors, Southeastern Louisiana University Contemporary Art Gallery, Hammond, LA

2019      Good Family, The Front Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2018      Identity Theft, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA

              Baby Love, University of New Orleans Gallery, St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA

2017      Conspiracies, Barrister’s Gallery, St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, LA

2016      Steppin’ Out, Xavier University Chapel Gallery, New Orleans, LA

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2020      Suffrage 100, Sue and Eugene Mercy Gallery, Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, CT

              Expanding the Narrative, Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA

              Forever is Composed of Nows, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2019      Louisiana Contemporary, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA

              New Orleans Film Festival, New Orleans, LA

              Welcome to the Afrofuture: Ground Zero, New Orleans African American Museum, New Orleans, LA

              Active Directions of the Mind, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

              The Wizard, Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles, CA

              Art on Paper, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New York, NY

              True Blue, UNO St. Claude Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2018      You Want a Piece of Me, collaboration with Carlos Rolón and members of The Front Artist

              Collective, in conjunction with Rolón’s show Outside/In, NOMA, New Orleans, LA

              Currents, 2018, curated by Barbara Zucker, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

              Honey Trap, The Front Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2017      Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, LeMieux Galleries, New Orleans, LA

              Text and Image, Site: Brooklyn Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

              Parse: Southeast Louisiana Juried Student Exhibition, Second Story Gallery, The Healing

              Center, New Orleans, LA

2016      La Femme, curated by Don Marshall, New Orleans Art Center, New Orleans, LA

              Presences, University of New Orleans Masters of Fine Arts Show, UNO St. Claude Gallery,

              New Orleans, LA

2016      NUDE, 8th Annual NUDE exhibition, Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH

2015      LA Contemporary, 2015, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA

              panel participant with curator Brooke Davis Anderson

2014      Imago Mundi: New Orleans Repatriation, Prospect.3 New Orleans, New Orleans Museum 

              of Art, New Orleans, LA

              True Colors, Ashé Cultural Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
              Dual Identity, Reynolds Ryan Art Gallery, New Orleans, LA

              megalomania two, Boyd Satellite Gallery, New Orleans, LA

2012      NOLA NOW: The Human Figure, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA

 

RESIDENCIES

2021       Mass MoCA

2020       Joan Mitchell Center, Artist-in-Residence

2019       Addison Gallery of American Art, Artist-in-Residence Program

2018       The Vermont Studio Center

 

COLLECTIONS

Ackland Museum of Art at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

New Orleans Museum of Art

Addison Gallery of American Art

John and Dathel Georges

Jeffrey and Walton Goldring

John Gonzales and Patricia Weeks

Arthur Rogers

Harold and Kathleen White

Angele Parlange

Sean Cummings

Alexandra Georges

Peter Sather