By EMMA SEGREST December 22, 2023
Ruby Roth’s art originated from a place of pain and an intense desire to define these feelings through vivid imagery. At age three, Roth received a scoliosis diagnosis followed by years of intense, painful treatment to help correct it. Before she could articulate what she was feeling, Roth was using art as an outlet to show her inner secrets, hopes, and feelings. This art manifested as women's figure drawings, which Roth used as a way to live vicariously and begin a spiritual acceptance journey of understanding her beauty.
This journey has led Roth down many ventures as an artist, as she continues her artistic transition from best-selling children’s book author to empowered female artist. The culmination of this journey thus far is her new book Boss Inside: A Reclamation of the Feminine. In her new book, Roth’s showcase of female figures accompanies her compilation of four years of journal entries that demonstrate her powerful process of reclaiming her identity after a long-term relationship that had defined her adulthood.
The women Roth illustrates are many words: haunting, ethereal, sexy, and powerful. Each one is a fleshed-out being and primarily the lone subject of the piece; a composition carefully crafted by Roth to showcase a blend of solitary inner emotional processing and an intimate communing with the outer world on the page.
“Women are vessels of processing. For me, there's always a sense of processing pain and opposing forces: joy, beauty, and the ugliness of the world,” says Roth. “I think the women I draw are always seeking balance. Pain is often the impetus for inward exploration and an opportunity to psychologically balance oneself.”
A unique aspect of Roth's female figures is the juxtaposing linework used to compose the body: sharp, angular lines transition to softer, rounded curves. What should be a clashing image instead portrays a new perspective on the feminine form. These asymmetrical bodies bring a sense of authority to her work. Roth demands viewers to consciously look at a new interpretation of the female form that dares to be imperfect. Roth’s favorite part of physically creating her pieces is the line work. Growing up Roth drew inspiration from comics, and Heavy Metal Magazine. She was always searching for new icons of feminine strength, one of her favorites being the character Tank Girl.
Though she claims color is one of the “least important factors” to her, there is still a consistent color narrative throughout that creates a stronger impact on the shape of her work. By utilizing muted colors, the line work of her art stands out more; lines carry the weight of her message. Onlookers can follow the lines and understand how Roth interprets femininity. Her earliest figure drawings came from her own body shape from scoliosis.
“The harder edges I think came from looking at my squared ribs from the bracing and then also my personal sense, my core way of being is softer,” says Roth. “The mix was coming from what I was witnessing in my own body, things that were put upon me and then also inserting my personal quiet, introverted gentleness into the figure as well.”
Ultimately Roth’s figures aim to capture the multifaceted experience of existing as a woman and the advocacy of radical self-acceptance. A key part of Roth’s artistic mission is activism, with her earlier children’s books explaining veganism and animal rights for younger generations. Her advocacy now is more subtle, but still driven through creating impactful visual images that convey her emotions around important topics.
Part of her mission is reclaiming the female form. Often her subjects are partially or fully nude, a choice that could be interpreted as overt sexualization, but to Roth it’s giving power back to the female form. To her, creativity and sexuality exist on the same plane, and she captures this spectrum in her portrayal of the female form.
When asked what femininity was to her, Roth didn’t have one specific answer, but she believed that feminine energy exists as a force of its own that is guided by intuition, emotion, and empathy. Roth labels herself as an intensely emotional being, but these feelings are the superpowers that she uses to capture specific moments of self-actualization.
Inner healing has been a consistent part of Roth's art. In 2016, she left a 14-year relationship that had been a core part of her life. Leaving the familiarity of that connection pushed her to take a new outlook on the world, and shaped her artistic practice as seen today. This transformative journey resonates in a world where every day presents new uncertainties, and Roth hopes her work can be a gentle encouragement in these tumultuous times.
“I'm pouring this sense of inner processing—regardless of what's going on in the outer world—into my artwork and these figures, and so I hope that anyone bringing my artwork into their homes, is using it as a touchstone for grounding,” says Roth.
Roth ultimately hopes her work can represent the importance of valuing yourself, especially for her fellow sensitive beings. In a world that feels unstable, She uses her art as an intimate reminder of the power we each hold to be our healers.
Roth ends the conversation with one last hope, “I hope that the work ultimately offers a sense of peace and a reminder for people to hone in on who they are and what they're capable of.”
To learn more about Ruby Roth and her new book, Boss Inside, please visit her website here: www.rubyroth.co WM