The SLU Contemporary is proud to present a solo exhibition of recent paintings and video works by New Orleans-based artist Ruth Owens. The exhibition Black Outdoors: Crossing Boundaries will debut a selection of works that expands the narrative around racial identity. Putting forth the concept that identity is fluid and open, Owens’ subjects cross boundaries that hold in fixed and stable constructs. The Black and Brown bodies in this exhibition venture into the outdoors, which has been historically an uninviting or dangerous space for people of color. The Great American Outdoors and the Arian alpine landscape have taken on meaning as a place for spiritual, physical, and psychological growth that does not include Black people. Black Outdoors crosses this boundary and examines both the healing power and the dangers faced by Black people in these spaces.
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 collectives:
A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn and “The Front” in New Orleans. Artist residencies include
the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA in 2019, the Vermont Studio Center
in 2018, the Studios at MASS MoCA in 2021, and The Joan Mitchell
Center 9/20 until 2/21.
Her work is in the permanent collection of the Addison Gallery of American Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Notable solo shows include “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 “Stepin’ 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.
Ruth Owens will be in conversation with Gallery Director Cristina Molina as part of the SLU Contemporary’s Virtual Visiting Artist Series on October 13 th at 12:00 PM. Virtual programming is held via zoom. To join the conversation, follow the SLU Contemporary via Instagram or Facebook @slu_contemporary.