RUTH is a journey of moving forward, a testimony to move forward boldly, that we can take our part in the larger picture of God’s plans. What prompted Ruth to take this journey with Naomi? She knew that she would be amongst strangers in the city of Naomi, not welcomed and mistreated. Also there were the dangers of this long journey of many miles by two uprooted women. Ruth had a large trust in Naomi, listening to her plans, even though she was unfamiliar with their customs and language.
The Book of Ruth is a beautiful and ancient narrative. Yet I feel it is contemporary in its content. Through the individuals in the story, we can learn about compassion, tolerance, commitment, bonding, generosity, the feminine, respect, closeness to the earth, and love. This is a story of refugees and very poor people.
I began to study this Biblical book to consider the episodes which would be the most visual. In spring of 1990, I began sketching and drawing. The painting was completed in the late summer.
The Story of Ruth connects us with (and helps us to reconsider) our ancestors and our histories. The twelve panels are unified into a single image through a continuity of horizontal lines: in the first four panels the hills, then of barley fields in the second row of panels, and finally the patterns of the arches in the third row. I tried to saturate each of the episodes with warm rich colors, patterns, and embellishments of gold and metallic inks.
Each time we look at it or retell the story, we can find encouragement for our present day lives. I hope that my interpretation of this 2300-year-old tale of loss, famine, journey, work, and abundance, all part of the human condition, will touch you and reacquaint you with this and other ancient stories.
But Ruth said, “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you!
For wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge,
Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
--John August Swanson, 1998
An original, hand-printed serigraph published by the artist with collaboration of Master printers David Wood and Christopher Betambeau at Advanced Graphics, London.
Printing began April 12 1991, completed July 8th 1991.
Edition Size: 280
Dimensions: Image: 21¼” x 27¾”
Paper: 27¼” x 34¾”
Paper: Velin Arches Blanc, Mould-made 100% Rag, Acid Free
Colors: 48 colors printed.