October 15, 2020
In this reading and dialog J. Ruth Gendler celebrates the human imagination as an essential natural resource—not rare but precious. She will pair her art with a variety of texts, and reflect on creative work as process, practice and evidence. Please join us for a lively evening of inspiration and nourishment.
Language is a river and a lantern,
a bridge across time
built of light and sound.
Breathe in, breathe out, follow
breath along and beyond thought.
A path unfolds where
none was visible
– jrg july 2020
Language is a river and a lantern, a bridge across time, built of light and sound
Printmaking has offered a wonderful way to engage with my tribe of characters and bring these elusive visitors into environments where they live and work, dream and dance. For the last ten years I have enjoyed making one of kind monotypes which frequently include the repeated presence of the stencil. Working with ghost images—the subtler second impression after the plate has gone through the press once—and the stencils allows me to suggest journeys and stories without becoming too literal.
Printmaking is very similar to poetry, both are practices of concentration, variation and experimentation, well-suited to celebration and lamentation. Trained first as a writer and then as an artist, it feels as if I speak two distinct languages. I am not translating between them as much as traveling between the Country of Art and the Word Lands.
Often language brings me closer to thought and art into a vast place inside and outside of words, an intimate and immense land of feeling. My art usually goes out ahead of my writing, and I glimpse where it is taking me long before the words arrive. Making art invites me to look more deeply and tenderly at the world around me and also the world inside, to draw closer to nature, to slow way down and find new ways to root and take nourishment from light.
I love the languages of art. My work is inspired by the organic geometry of circles, squares and triangles; the lines that form into tree branches and letters, the curves of the human face, the arches in our bones; the shapes of leaves and letters, the bowls that hold water and air and qualities that seem invisible, a parade of ancient friends.
When I make art, time opens up and my perceptions of the things around me are heightened. The feel of the paper, the three new jars of blue paints, the shiny black ink, the textures and liveliness of the materials are in themselves satisfying. Sometimes emerging from my studio, everything that was ordinary becomes so vivid that it stuns me. Although I have never been stopped for speeding, I was once pulled over for driving too slowly; there was simply so much to see.
In that space it seems like everything in the world is talking—if we only knew how to listen and translate. A conversation between indigo and orange, the conversations between circles and lines, a conversation between a pathfinder and her path, a conversation between the walkers and the moon, the conversation between when and where. In my house an almost daily conversation between Impatience and Perseverance!
I am nourished by the immense and intimate beauties of the natural world, by teaching poetry and art to children, by exploring certain subjects and themes in diverse media (painting, drawing, printmaking, lyrical nonfiction) over a long time. In a noisy, electronically lit, fragmented world, I hope to create paintings, monotypes and books that invite viewers to pause, hear and remember the silence, the seasons, the soul.
J. Ruth Gendler
J. Ruth Gendler is an artist, author and educator. Recent exhibits include Chochmat Ha Lev, the Atlantic Gallery Member Invitational (New York), Google (San Francisco), Oakopolis in the Art Murmur, the Commonwealth Club, and the Dream Institute. In winter 2016 the online magazine Seven Pillars published “In Celebration of Trees,” a gallery of Gendler’s tree drawings and prints with her poem, “Thinking with Trees.”
Gendler’s art is featured in all three of her books: the bestselling The Book of Qualities, the award winning Notes on the Need for Beauty and the anthology Changing Light. Qualities has been translated into several languages, (last year into Vietnamese) used in classrooms to teach personification and values, and quoted widely in sermons and speeches. Qualities has also been adapted for theater and dance, most recently at Cornish College in Seattle (April 2017) and as a two act children’s ballet by Visionary Dance Theatre in San Diego. (May 2017). Contemplating qualities has proved to be a lively, useful and gentle way to educate the heart and mind.
Gendler has extensive experience in using art and creative processes as a way to kindle and make visible our intentions and questions. A long time poet in the school, Gendler has taught writing and art to adults and children for thirty-five years.
The City of Berkeley recognized Gendler’s contributions to the arts by declaring January 30, 2018, J. Ruth Gendler Day.
Art and text © 2020 J. Ruth Gendler
10% of all sales will be donated to Emily’s List, the nation’s largest organization in support of women in politics. All work is unframed except when noted. I am open to payment plans. So if you see something you are interested in, please inquire about it! I am grateful for your feedback and support of my work.
J. Ruth Gendler