why belonging?

We recognize that artists are integral to healthy communities and that the arts are a societal cornerstone that bring people together, build community, and foster social progress. Thanks in part to funds from California Arts Council’s Artists in Communities Program, we are now reaching deeper into our into our rural community through a sustained artistic residency with Artist Ruth Chase.


Belonging is a multi-year program which explores our vulnerable mountain home and the people who tend it, love it and depend on it.

During Year One, Artist-in-Residence Ruth Chase directed a short film and community exhibition, together with a year's worth of public art making workshops and dialogue. "BELONGING", the film, was shown at the 18th Annual Nevada City Film Festival (AKA "the Sundance of the Sierra"), which took place in September, 2018. It was also screened at the 18th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival in January 2019.

During Year Two of Belonging, I AM HERe explored how women find and maintain their sense of belonging in our changing rural landscape. It culminated in an interactive public installation in downtown Nevada City, and as a community conversation - a way to connect, explore and empower. Alongside our public installation, we created one minute videos of each of our thirteen participants - each with their own QR code - in which were shared unique and and personal experiences of life here.

Now in Year Three, Belonging manifests as HOME, and elicits perspectives on cultural identity from our less represented populations. Ideas of “home” are being explored through the lens of art salons, our gold country history, our recovering native population, and our recent immigrants. Critical bridge building tools, including a Cultural Equity Convening - scheduled for early 2020 - are emerging through creative practices, as we meet.

who is ruth?

Ruth Chase lives and works in Nevada County. In 2017, Ruth completed the West of Lincoln Project, having been awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles for Art in Action, as well as a grant from the Carl Jacobs Foundation. She has held a residency at the Millay Colony for the Arts in New York, was published in Professional Artist Magazine, Catapult Art Magazine and The Huffington Post, and has taught at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Ruth has been a featured sketch artist on the Dead Files TV program and, most recently, was awarded an Artist in Residency at Nevada County Arts Council, thanks in part to a grant from the California Arts Council through its Artists in Communities Program. Through this, Ruth continues her work for Belonging and I AM HERE. Ruth is a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute.

My work is about the environment and the human spirit. I am drawn to subjects that are self-aware and who hold a strong belief system. Nothing gives me greater joy than to work in collaboration with people from all points of view.
— Ruth Chase
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Ruth Chase is primarily a project based artist whose award winning series, West of Lincoln Project, probed into the lives of individuals who grew up in Venice, CA, sharing stories of adversity transformed into valuable life wisdom. She is a California-based painter who uses biographical portraiture to communicate stories of compassion and valuable insight to promote positive social change. Her work includes the use of social media in her creative process to stimulate conversation around human value, as well as engaging the public to actively participate in the final outcome of her work. Ruth's website can be found here: https://ruthchase.com/

Ruth Chase Boudreaux

Ruth Chase Boudreaux

“We Need To Rethink Wood”  acrylic on canvas, 34 X 25″

“We Need To Rethink Wood” acrylic on canvas, 34 X 25″

want to participate?

During the year to come there will be many ways to get involved:

  • Become an ambassador for Belonging to support the planning of workshops, forums and an online presence

  • Attend Ruth’s creative workshops - open to the community at large - to learn through storytelling and art

  • Participate in a group exhibit as part of our main public installation

Ruth invites you to join her by clicking on the links where you can submit images, stories, opinions, as well as be informed of classes, events and live opportunities to participate in this award winning project!

Please join our Belonging Facebook group, a forum that allows you to participate in the conversation about our home, the forest, how we tend the land, how we live and eat here, and on issues that concern us all, such as climate change, farming, land ethics, as well as our indigenous and historic family roots that have existed here for many generations and perhaps more than a thousand years.

Artist Ruth Chase will post a daily photo on Instagram documenting the journey of Belonging. You are encouraged to comment, and engage!

become a benefactor

The terms of our grant with California Arts Council require that we raise funds proportionate to the sum received as a match. Your support - big or small - will be of tremendous value as Belonging develops. We thank you for your generosity. 


In 2020 we will be honoring the centenary of Ellen Clark Sargent and we actively encourage arts initiatives such as Belonging, which seek to celebrate and give a voice to women in our community.

I AM HERE engages our community and paves the way for this important date so that attention is drawn and the public educated on its symbolism as a piece of living history in our own community. Nevada County Arts Council is one of 71 grantees chosen for the Artists in Communities program. The award was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council. Eliza Tudor, Executive Director at Nevada County Arts Council, said of the news: “We worked hard to produce a great application which expanded upon the first year of our program, Belonging. We were particularly inspired by Ruth’s stamina as an artist. This particular program takes the artist far from his or her studio and the “ivory tower” notion of working in isolation. It demands that the artist expose his or her community not only to art, but art in connection with ideas that shine a light on both our individuality and our sense of togetherness – our “belonging”. Ruth’s skills in communication and her ability to really listen to her community make her an excellent partner.”

“When artists and community come together, powerful ideas are forged,” said Nashormeh Lindo, Chair of the California Arts Council. “They create a symbiotic relationship, where each engages and inspires the other toward a common purpose. The partnership between Nevada County Arts Council and Ruth Chase established through this Artists in Communities project will be an invaluable asset to Nevada County."