Ruth Nelson is a Watertown, MA artist, meditation coach, and weight-lifter who came to Massachusetts to study mathematics at MIT. Her career was in computer network security research, with a particular emphasis on understanding the usefulness and limitations of models. This work, along with her mathematics education and her years of meditation practice, leads her to embrace alternative ways of seeing the world.
Ruth took photographs for many years before she started framing them and hanging them in her office. After she retired, she started showing her work more widely and expanded it to include mixed media collage. She was a member of Studio7, a collage group and participated in their group shows.
Ruth’s art education includes many photography and collage classes at the DeCordova Museum, the Atelier and other intensive classes at the Griffin Photography Museum, pastel workshops with several teachers including Robert Carsten, and various community education and art association classes and workshops.
Ruth’s photography and mixed-media work has been shown in a number of venues, including DeCordova Museum, Concord Art Association, Griffin Museum of Photography, Arsenal Center for the Arts, and Fitness Together Belmont. She participated in a small-group, juried show, “Perceptions of Self,” at Arsenal Center for the Arts and had solo shows at the Faneuil branch of the Boston Public Library and at the Belmont Media Center. She exhibited work at HEALINGinCOLOR Gallery in Nashua NH and at Art Walk in Peterborough, NH. She also had a joint show, “Color Stories,” with encaustic artist Martha Shea Smith at Urban College in Boston.
Ruth is currently the President of the Boston Chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art and is a member of the Central Massachusetts and New Hampshire Chapters.
Years ago, after a meditation retreat, I went out on a magical spring day with my camera and I reflected on a teaching of the Buddha: “in the seeing, there is just that which is seen.” The eye sees color and form. The rest comes from the mind, which creates reactions, meaning, emotions, and stories. I realized then that this is definitely true of the camera. My photography became more of a conscious evocation of experience rather than an attempt to capture it. I keep learning how to share my experience effectively through the process of photography and printing.
I photograph intuitively, relying on my emotional connection to what I see. Looking at the object or scene and feeling it, I use my artistic and technical training to help the camera record an image representing the experience. Working with the image on my computer, I continue trying to invoke and evoke emotion and connection. The viewer then continues the process, adding their own memories and experiences to mine. Our human emotions, memories, and stories interact with the visual image, resonating with and echoing each other to create movement, richness and meaning. A lot of my images are layered and intended to present shifting views rather than to urge a conclusion.
When I work in other media such as collage and pastel, I practice similarly, using the techniques and the media to convey an experience. Whether the image is realistic or abstract, I want it to have an effect on the viewer, to be an opening into my life, and to invite the viewer to experience their own.