I AM HERe is about how women find and maintain their sense of belonging in our changing rural landscape. Lead Artist Ruth Chase is eliciting perspectives through the use of social media, public art-making salons, a short film, and a culminating interactive public installation called I AM HERe. I AM HERe is a community conversation - a way to connect, explore and empower.

The City of Nevada City expressed its support for I AM HERe at the time of Nevada County Arts Council’s application to California Arts Council’s Artists in Communities Program. Catrina Olson, City Manager, wrote: “The City of Nevada City is preparing to mark one hundred years since the signing of the 19th Amendment. This is relevant to all of us, in that it gave women the freedom to vote. It was in Nevada City, forty-two years prior to the passing of the amendment that a Nevada City resident, Ellen Sargent, formed a vital part of a core team that introduced the 29 words that would later become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

Through several gatherings under the artistic direction of Ruth Chase, a group of local women (Key Participants) arrived at a collective vision for an interactive public art installation, “I AM HERe.” First by exploring feelings of belonging, then learning about what a public art installation is, and finally by collectively choosing symbolism to direct the art installation.

The key participants in I AM HERE are Cassie Angle, Elma Baker, Melinda Booth, Virginia Rose Covert, Kimberlee Evans, Susan Gouveia, Isis Indriya, Kayle Martin, Erin Noel, Elisa Parker, Shelby Richardson, Jennifer Singer, and Ginny Woods (known as AniLa in her Buddhist practice). Together they explored what it means to belong in Nevada County as a woman and developed a vision for this art installation. Significant symbolism was used to lead the design, including charring of the wood to represent renewal and care for the earth as mother, as well as weaving to represent community and integration.

Once the symbolic vision was determined, Ruth Chase designed a structure that would embrace these ideas and symbology.  The “I AM HERe” installation is made of local manzanita branches and Yuba River rock, and includes audio elements along with QR codes linked to videos of the key participants sharing their perspective on their sense of belonging.

The installation was located in downtown Nevada City, California from May 18 – June 16, 2019. The public came daily, rain or shine to engage the art in three primary ways. Over 400 people posted their comments and tied them onto the structure. They have been documented and archived for future use.