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Painter and printmaker Ruth Starr Rose's lifelong vocation was to use art to create shared communities, chronicling the lives of her African American neighbors in historic black towns in Maryland. Rose's portraits, many in oil, accord their subjects a refreshing dignity that was revolutionary at the time they were painted. Rose and her family had a long history of supporting black civil rights, as well as black artists; with connections to luminaries such as Paul Robeson, Lead Belly, Roland Hayes, Orson Welles, Gertrude Stein, and DuBose Heyward. Hearing spirituals from childhood, Rose was moved by their dissonant beauty, and illustrated the songs as the congregation envisioned them. Alain Locke selected two of her African American spirituals for his pioneering work, The Negro in Art in 1940. She worked in 1941 on a spirituals book with Paul Robeson writing the introduction (unpublished due to prohibitive printing costs). Most assumed Rose was black, as she went beyond her family's privileged world, and worked as an artist documenting indigenous cultures on a global scale. Rose stated that she had empathy for dark-skinned people, and was on a mission to create a "universal brotherhood" among the races through art. Rose traveled abroad, studying spiritual symbols associated with early African art, establishing connections to Native American art. Nina Khruscheva's epilogue adds a unique global dimension to the book. Khrushcheva is Professor of International Affairs and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at New School University in New York City. She holds a PhD from Princeton University, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Introduction by Leslie King Hammond, PhD, Professor Emerita Maryland Institute College of Art. Presented by Brown Capital Management, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum is honored to host the exhibition, Ruth Starr Rose (1896-1965): Revelations of African American Life in Maryland and the World, along with this catalog.
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