Preserving the artist's heritage
Ruth Fine
Sponsored by University of the Arts
Mary Phelan, Advisor
Olivia Jia, Intern
Gilbert Winner, Videographer
Richard Weisgrau, Video Editor

Artist’s Statement

The landscape and related natural forms including flowers, bones, and shells have been the primary motifs of my work since entering art school.  These subjects offer cues to be translated or transformed.   The work is not concerned with conveying a particular place or situation, but rather a sense of organic nature--rhythms, weights, colors, shapes, spaces, forms.  

Over time the focus became working on paper, primarily in watercolor, color pencil, oil crayon, pastel, ink and graphite (sometimes combined), and various print media.  Eventually this evolved into making books -- both as unique works and as printed books in editions.  Most often they are landscape panoramas in an accordion format, with each opening meant to function as a coherent unit as well as a fraction of the whole.  

Some books are developed on site; others are worked in the studio based on earlier studies that encompass and reflect the direct encounter with nature.  

Biographical Note

Concerned about the potential for conflicts of interest during the period of her curatorial work for the National Gallery of Art, Washington (1972 to 2012), Ruth Fine generally maintained privacy about her studio work.  She holds a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts, 1962), an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania (1964), and was a scholarship student at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (summer, 1961).   Fine was an instructor at the then Philadelphia College of Art from 1965 through 1969 and at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) from 1968-1972 and 1978-1979.  There she established the etching studio and instituted a program in screen printing.  She also taught at the University of Vermont (summers, 1976, 1977).  Subjects of her classes included painting, drawing, printmaking (with a focus on the history of prints), design, and senior thesis seminars. 

Fine has had solo exhibitions at the Philadelphia Art Alliance; Beaver College; Ryder University; Bennington College; Gallery 72, Omaha, Nebraska; and participated in numerous two-person and group exhibitions, including two in the 1970s in which she exhibited under the pseudonym Eileen Brown.  She also exhibited under the names Ruth Lehrer and Ruth Fine Lehrer, during the time of her marriage to the painter Leonard Lehrer (1962-1970) through 1977.  

Awarded a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation for work in etching (1989), Fine has participated in studio residencies at The Vermont Studio Center (1992) and the Anni and Josef Albers Foundation (2001).   She also received the 

Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching at Beaver College (1971) and the George and Linda Kaufman Award for Curatorial Excellence, at the National Gallery of Art  (1990); was an Honoree at Howard University’s James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art (2013) and awarded the College Art Association’s Alfred H Barr Award for Museum Scholarship for Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis  (2017).  Most recently she received a fellowship to make monoprints at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ballycastle, 

Ireland (fall, 2017)

Fine’s curatorial work included the organization of exhibitions and/or writing essays about the National Gallery’s collection of Lessing J. Rosenwald’s prints and drawings and two exhibitions of the collection of the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; important print workshops including Brandywine Graphic Workshop,  Crown Point Press, Gemini G.E.L., and Graphicstudio U.S.F. and American artists ranging from James McNeill Whistler to Mel Bochner, including Romare Bearden,  Richard Diebenkorn. Jim Dine, David C. Driskell, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, Michael Heizer, Jasper Johns, Norman Lewis, Roy Lichtenstein, John Marin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Martin Puryear, Robert Rauschenberg, Edda Renouf, Mark Rothko, and Frank Stewart.

Fine was responsible for the conception and distribution oversight of The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a joint project of the collectors, the National Gallery of Art, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The Institute for Museum and Library Services, with an accompanying catalogue. 

She is currently engaged with fostering scholarship about the work of her late husband, the painter Larry Day (1921-1998); is Chair of the board of directors of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation;  and on the boards of The Terra Foundation for American Art (through 2017); and the Fabric Workshop and Museum.