Ruth Brownstein

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Ruth Brownstein headshot.jpg

Ruth was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and grew up in southern New Jersey, Tennessee and Ohio. She has a BFA in Painting from Ohio State University and an MFA in writing from Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts.  She is a Muscular Therapist and a teacher of the Alexander Technique. She has done art for many years as well as improv comedy and a one woman show called “My Life as Seen Through The Eyes Of Joseph Campbell”. 

“The only thing we directly encounter, the only experience we concretely have, is our personal life.”    William James

 

“Everything the same; everything distinct.”  Zen Proverb

For many years I imagined looking out of my window with supernatural powers that would enable me to see beyond my immediate surroundings. Seeing oil fields, people without water, the hazardous waste dump where the waste from my car went – consequences of capitalism that I, in my comfort, could turn away from. During the process of this contemplation, which has been an inquiry into what it means to be present, I have experienced the relationship between what I choose to see and how I feel. I have learned that there is a relationship between buying clothing and the pollution created to ship that clothing around the world. Yet this information rarely changes my behavior. I often wonder what is required to change behavior. Are social media technologies a help in this regard or a distraction? Is truth the news we hear about war or is truth the peace of a garden? And how does this look?  My art explores questions about the different realities we are presented with – what we experience in the moment and what is conveyed via our information sources. What are our references for what is true, present and real? From outer space, Africa may be a half inch away from Boston, and from my window I can only imagine the distance.  The disconnect from the effect of our behavior on others and the planet is problematic to me, and for many years my work has been a way of being a witness to that disconnect.

The common denominator in all my work is playfulness. I juxtapose subject matter, colors and patterns, ironies, form and content: humor juxtaposed with seriousness. I am exploring what being distracted looks like in a violent and disturbing society.

I ask myself these days how I might merge my concerns that appeared in much of my early work with a desire to explore the unknown. The answer may lie in the fact that no matter how present I intend to be, I see the world in pictures. Whatever I create is my mirror.  I understand my experience through my work. I see what I am thinking by looking at a finished piece.  I continually question what I take for granted, what I call reality and what I call the truth.

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