Self portrait of Ruth Mountaingrove
February 21, 1923
|Died||December 18, 2016 (aged 93)|
Eureka, California, U.S.
|Known for||WomanSpirit; The Blatant Image; Turned On Woman Songbook; For Those Who Cannot Sleep|
Ruth Mountaingrove (February 21, 1923 – December 18, 2016) was an American lesbian-feminist photographer, poet and musician, known for her photography documenting the lesbian land movement in Southern Oregon.
Early life and education
She was born Ruth Shook on February 21, 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Edith Shelling and Herbert Daniel Shook. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Kutztown State Teacher's College in 1945, majoring in science with minors in English and Spanish. In 1946, she published a book of poems, Rhythms of Spring, and married Bern Ikeler. After nineteen years of marriage and five children, they divorced in 1965. Mountaingrove joined the Philadelphia chapter of NOW in 1966, and worked to change abortion laws. She helped found Women in Transition, assisting battered women, and helped facilitate the first lesbian group in the city.
She met her future partner Jean in 1970, and in 1971 they moved to Southern Oregon, taking the name of the intentional community where they lived for two years, Mountain Grove. They moved to Golden, Oregon and founded WomenSpirit., a lesbian feminist quarterly published collectively near Wolf Creek, Oregon from 1974–1984. It was the first American lesbian/feminist periodical to be dedicated to both feminism and spirituality. Their vision for the magazine was "international and radical feminist. We wanted a cultural revolution—a total reordering of institutions and values. It was to be a modest magazine with grand goals."
Oregon Women's Land Trust
In the spirit of removing "man" and "men" from her descriptions of her work, Mountaingrove and Tee Corinne led "ovular" photography workshops instead of "seminars" on photography, where "women could learn photography in the context of the women's movement, providing a means for the women to examine the differences between the way men pictured women and the way the women saw themselves." The Blatant Image (a feminist photography magazine) grew out of the ovular workshops.
The Mountaingroves purchased land in 1978, called Rootworks, where Ruth Mountaingrove published the book Turned on Woman's Songbook and a book of poetry, For Those Who Cannot Sleep. Between 1974 and 1986, Mountaingrove spent a 12-year period photographing women in the lesbian community in Oregon and other parts of the United States. She photographed meetings of the Oregon Women's Land Trust, documenting their lives at OWL Farm, a southern Oregon lesbian land community providing "access to rural land in order to be able to live outside of mainstream patriarchal culture".
The Mountaingroves separated in 1985.
After her 1986 move to Arcata, California, Mountaingrove's art shifted from documentary photography to more experimental darkroom and digital images through a process she called "drawing with light", exploring photography as an abstract artistic medium, "like sumi ink drawings, or in some cases like paintings". Her photography was exhibited in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, and she held solo exhibits at three venues: Northcoast Internet, SHNEngineering, and The Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered Center.
Mountaingrove died on December 18, 2016 at age 93 at Ida Emmerson Hospice House in Eureka.
- "Ruth Mountaingrove papers, 1950–1999". Archives West. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- Love, Barbara J. (2006-01-01). Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. pp. 327–328. ISBN 9780252031892.
- "Ruth Mountaingrove". Eureka Times-Standard. Eureka, California. January 3, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
- "Visiting Writers Series - Ruth Mountaingrove". College of the Redwoods, English department. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
- "Ruth Mountaingrove - Biography". Women Artists of the American West. p. 326. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
- Long, Linda; Gage, Carolyn (2008). "A Lesbian Archivist Discovers A Hidden Literary Treasure in Southern Oregon". The Lambda Book Report.
- Christ, Carol (2000). "Womanspirit". In Kramarae, Cheris; Spender, Dale (eds.). Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women: Global Women's Issues. Routledge. pp. 2050–2051. ISBN 9780415920889.
- Summerhawk, Barbara; Gagehabib, La Verne (2000-01-01). Circles of Power: Shifting Dynamics in a Lesbian-centered Community. New Victoria Publishers. pp. 67, 207. ISBN 9781892281135.
- "Tee A. Corinne". link.galegroup.com. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
- "Lesbian Intentional Community: Ruth Mountaingrove (b. 1923) photographs". Oregon Digital. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
- "HERSTORY". Oregon Women's Land Trust. Retrieved 2016-03-15.