Ruth Westriech as an Artist
As a life-long artist, I strive to paint beautiful things with nature as my inspiration. When there was no beauty in my life, I created it. I find peace, tranquility and inspiration in nature. The tree-tops swaying in the breeze and the beautiful white cumulous clouds heighten my senses and spur me on. At my core, I am a part of the wonder of Mother Nature – we are not separate.
As you can see from my work, all of my life I have found solace, serenity and peace in nature.
In more recent years, my vision of nature has shifted from her beauty to concern about whether the earth can survive the onslaught of damage from the air, land and sea. My newest work was a revelation. Art can be a dramatic and powerful way to bring visibility to the reality that life on earth is changing rapidly and that we all need to stop arguing and get on the same side to heal Mother Earth.
My art has always been beautiful and colorful. But this new series is different. My art has become my activism to open up dialogues about human and planetary health. I call it a soft art activism because you have to get really up close and personal to see what’s going on because when you’re looking at it from a distance, it’s very pleasing to look at. Then when you get up close, you start seeing each individual thing. What is when most people go, “Oh, oh, oh my.” They are drawn into it.
As each piece starts to take shape, I feel a whole gamut of things. First, extreme sadness. I have cried while I’m doing some pieces because it’s so important. Then, anger that we have gotten to this point. I look at the polarization of every single area of our lives. It’s troubling to me that this is where we’re going to, I have no idea until I put on my very last brush stroke about what is coming next.
My hope is that this art will stir up conversations among people of all ages and inspire them to take action. I will guarantee you, no matter what it is that you are concerned about there are tens of thousands, if not millions of people thinking exactly the same way you are. Want to join other change makers for a better planet and better health? See the Westreich Foundation website for more information.
More from Ruth Westreich about Her Inspiration for This New Art Series
Our Conscious Conversations of Consequence Art Series
I was motivated by my deep personal connection to Mother Earth and all her delicate ecosystems. I keep reading and seeing the unintended consequences we have thrust upon her in our quest to put profits before the people and our planet.
I am an activist and philanthropist, but I had never integrated my art into my activism and philanthropic mission. I know that art has the ability to effect people in a very deep way. This body of work externalizes the angst we live with on a daily basis. It is this constant undercurrent that I believe is creating stress and helping to undermine the health of all of us including our children.
My intent for this project is to create discussions to disrupt the New Normal of unsustainable choices that have been thrust upon the people and the planet. I want people view this body of work, understand and confront the Normalcy Bias that has become part of the fabric of our nation. The art shows the collusion and revolving doors of government, agencies and big industry.
My hope is that people will question their own assumptions about how and where they receive information, and how to distinguish what a contrived narrative is, and what is fact substantiated by science and unbiased research. My hope is that by touching people’s heart through art, they will become committed to becoming part of the solution. My hope is that it will reach a point where the art takes on a life of its own.
- I learned that people are moved by visuals more than by words.
- I also learned to go with my gut and let my intuition tell me when I had completed the art/painting portion of this project.
- I learned that no matter what side of an issue a person is on, when they study one of the pieces, it opens the way for conversation.
When someone first sees this body of work, they are taken aback by how visually colorful and impactful each piece is, but soon see that the message is in the details. When people view it as a collective, it is tremendously powerful, and most have very strong reactions.
Everyone wants to know what my motivation was for creating this body of work. They also want to know how I came up with the theme for each piece.
I have always painted beautiful pictures. But, one day I created a new technique for putting down a substrate or first layer. After the paint mingled and dried, I clearly saw a White House splintered apart. I also saw our Mother Earth peeking out but contained within this broken White House.
These elements were so clearly visible. I felt the piece was begging me to interpret what I saw on the canvas. After I completed the first one, I felt a shift in me, and that I would be the facilitator of an important story for me to tell.
My approach to changing hearts and minds is what I call ‘soft activist art’. It is one of the fastest growing genres of the art world.
Artists communicate their thoughts and feelings through their works. Activist art can open the door to having ‘Conscious Conversations of Consequence’ that we must have as a collective to grow grassroots movements for paradigm shifts. Paint what you feel so others can be moved by what they see in your work.
Speak with your brush, paint from your inner knowing. Find other artists, young and old, and start to build momentum for this critical art genre. No matter what kind of activist art you create, know there is a thread that runs through it connecting to others to building a more sustainable, regenerative and just world.