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Ruth Owens transitioned to a full-time art career after leaving her medical practice of 25 years. Based in New Orleans, she is represented by the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery , and belongs to the artist collective, “The Front.” Owens’ paintings and videos center the black figure, and embrace the physical and spiritual flow between bodies and the natural world, referencing a spiritual black ecology.


Artist residencies include the Joan Mitchell Center, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Vermont Studio Center, the Studios at MASS MoCA, and the International Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society, and 21c Museum.

artist statement 

I’m a figurative painter and video artist who centers the black body while considering the flow between body and nature. I contemplate both a very physical connection with the world around us, as well as a spiritual one. Our bodies are primarily water and, as such, flow into our environment as much as it flows into us. This bidirectional flow establishes a connection between us and the natural world that manifests in a spiritual feeling of belonging when we walk along the beach or a forest path. It gives us a reverence for nature which is urgently needed in these times of earthly vulnerability. Granted, embracing the natural world can be complicated when considering the history of violence against black bodies in these spaces. My work opens possibilities for a spiritual black ecology that reimagines our ambivalent history in outdoor spaces.

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