Ruth Baggett has been a part of the Lower Town arts family in Paducah for many years. January 18 she opens a solo exhibition of new work at the Paducah School of Art and Design (PSAD).
Extension of Thought is a community involved art installation. “It brings together two distinct, even incongruous traditions - southern storytelling and Tibetan prayer flags,” said Paul Aho, PSAD director. “They remind each of us of our common path and shared future.”
The installation consists of 25 hand-bound books strung on 30' long, floor-to-ceiling "ladders” that are crocheted from hemp and bamboo. Each ladder will explore a single subject - family, kindness, humor, animals, and contain brief stories handwritten by their tellers. Using over 2,500 pieces of hand-torn Japanese paper, the books and paper pennants will float around and above visitors.
Baggett, a native of Paducah, said she wants the exhibition to be a visual version of Fanfare to the Common Man, referring to Aaron Copeland's orchestral piece written as a hymn and celebration of American unity at the start of World WII.
"It is a consolidation of individuals that creates culture,” said Baggett. “Individuals may choose conflict or unity, good or evil, but most of us choose to move toward happiness.”
Over the past seven months, Baggett has reached out to people young and old: In places of prayer and play, in times of sickness and celebration, to collect thousands of our community's thoughts, wishes, prayers, and hopes. Extension of Thought will assemble these small "stories" and present them in the installation - as prayers that speak to our common need for compassion and tolerance, as well as our thirst for knowledge and understanding.”
Extension of Thought, will open with a free community reception from 5 - 7 pm. in the Bill Ford Gallery. The gallery is located at PSAD's 2D and Graphic Design Building at 905 Harrison Street in Paducah.
The exhibition will remain on display through February 22 and is complemented by an exhibition of student works from 21st Century McCracken County Community Centers - a consortium of schools within the district receiving grant funding for afterschool activities through the 21st Century program. The student works will be on display in PSAD's upstairs and downstairs alcove galleries.
For more information about PSAD or the exhibition please call 270.534.3901. Or, visit the PSAD website.
Baggett received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Murray State University with an emphasis in weaving and a Master of Fine Arts degree in book arts and printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
She studied bookbinding and preservation with Hedi Kyle, a German-born book artist and educator, and she later interned as a letterpress printer with Peter Kruty Editions in Brooklyn, New York. She recently retired from a thirty-one-year career in education and owned and operated her own art gallery exhibiting local, regional, national and international artists in Paducah for ten years.